NORTH CAROLINA, USA — On New Year’s Day in the south, it’s all about what’s for supper. Collard greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread are all staples for the traditional first-day-of-the-year meal. They’re said to bring good health, wealth and luck.
It isn’t quite clear when or why these foods became New Year’s Day staples, but according to southern food researcher John Egerton’s Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History, black-eyed peas are associated with a “mystical and mythical power to bring good luck.” The legume originated from West Africa and has often been included in meals for special occasions. Many believe the swelling of the cooked bean symbolizes the increasing of good fortunes.
Here are the New Year’s Day classics and what they are said to represent:
- Greens: Whether they’re collard, turnip or mustard, greens on your plate represent wealth. Try this delicious and savory collard greens recipe from Our State Magazine.
- Black-eyed peas: They represent coins, luck, or the promise of prosperity. Here's a recipe with both black-eyed peas and collards by Our State Magazine.
- Cornbread: Not only is it delicious, but it also is supposed to represent gold. Eating it brings with it the hope of extra spending money in the new year. Try this classic skillet cornbread recipe.
- Pork: Pork is said to bring prosperity and progress, because pigs root ahead as they eat, as opposed to backward like chickens or turkeys. Try this hearty fried pork chops with onion gravy recipe.