By Charley Lollis
If you are like us at the Rural Center, going into 2021, we want to have a prosperous new year. One way Southerns like to ring in the new year is through foods that carry stories, and superstitions, with them through the years. These traditional New Year's Day foods include pork, black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread. If you didn’t know, each of these foods has specific reasoning why they are served on the first day of the year.
Most southern dinners have at least one meat in the main course, and the food considered to bring a prosperous new year is any kind of pork. Hence why many people in the South will eat ham or use ham bone to make a soup on the first day of the year. This folklore relates ham to a prosperous year because pigs root forward. When they dig with their snout, it is always in a forward motion, just as we want our new year to move forward, not backward.
A side that commonly accompanies pork is collard greens. A helping of greens on the first day of the year ensures you will see more green in the coming year in the form of folding money.
Along those same lines, many people will add cornbread to their meal. They incorporate cornbread into the menu not just because of its delicious taste, but for its yellow color. On the first day of the year, when you take a cornbread bite, it is supposed to represent the gold you will bring in throughout the next year.
There are many variations as to what the black-eyed pea represents for the new year.. Some say it dates back to the Civil War when the Confederate army would graze the fields to only find peas that the Union soldiers looked over. It was often looked over because it was seen as livestock food that was unworthy of their consumption. On the other hand, the Confederate soldiers considered themselves lucky to have food that brought them the nutrients they needed. People will now eat these same peas hoping for the same health given to the soldiers in their time of need. Furthermore, when the peas are paired with greens, they represent the coins you will see throughout the year and that you should eat 365 peas, one for each day of the new year.
Whether you believe the superstitions or not, Georgia’s Rural Center wishes you and your family a healthy and happy 2021.