When you are a southerner there are certain things that you can count on. Down south it’s always “ya’ll” not “you guys.” If someone is sympathetic to your plight they may “bless your heart.” The words, “fight, right, and night, and any other words that rhyme with those,” are to be pronounced with a strong, long I sound. Another certainty is that on New Year’s Day you can bet that greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, ham hocks or hog jowl, and sweet tea will be on many menus. Tradition states that the cook place a silver dime in the greens (hopefully it was washed and clean), and whoever got it in their portion was assured future wealth.
My Aunt Mary Alice is one of those who have cooked her own version of the traditional meal for many, many years. “At our house, cabbage and black eyed peas are the most important vegetables. I always cook the cabbage with a dime in it for good luck. And we have hog jowl….sliced and fried crisp. We also poach eggs soft and serve them on top of the turnip greens we cook.”
One year though, for some reason, she simply forgot it was New Years’ Day and didn’t cook it at the noon meal as usual. She played cards at a friends’ house that night, when suddenly she remembered. She hurried home as soon as the game was over and cooked the meal, serving it at 11:45 that night (while it was still New Years’ day!).
How did her father, husband and sons feel about being awakened to eat at such a late hour? She doesn’t remember but she does say, “You would think, if there was anything to the “good luck” part of it, I would be rich due to my persistence…..but that is NOT the case….I really believe it is just a fun tradition!”
Does your family have certain foods or activities that are traditional at your house on New Year’s Day? If they do we’d love to hear about them!