Holidays in the South usually have well-known food-related traditions, and New Year’s Day is certainly no exception. Southerners know better than to start off the year on the wrong foot, so you’d better believe they’ve got the standard Southern New Year’s meal of black-eyed peas, greens, and pork on the stove. This humble yet delicious menu has also become synonymous with New Year’s Day in places outside the South, and for the most part people have no clue why they feel compelled to scarf down copious amounts of soul-food every year on the First of January.
The roots of the traditional fare becomes much more meaningful when you examine them, so let’s take a look at what we’re eating before we actually eat it.
Black Eyed Peas
The tradition of eating black eyed peas dates back to the Civil War. When General William T. Sherman led his Union troops on their destructive march through the South, the fields of black eyed peas were left untouched because they were deemed fit for only animals. As a result, the humble yet nourishing black eyed peas saved surviving Confederates from starvation. The peas are said to represent coins.
Greens represent wealth and paper money, as they’re flat and green like U.S. currency. Any greens will do, but in the South the most popular are collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and cabbage.
Throughout history, owning pigs and livestock was a symbol of prosperity, so today pork is eaten in the hopes of a prosperity and a bountiful harvest in the coming year. Pigs are also a symbol of progressing into the year ahead since they move forward using their snout to root for food.
Cornbread symbolizes gold and is used for soaking up the pot likker from the greens. When wheat was a rarity in the region, Southerners made cornbread as a regular meal staple.
After you have had your fill of Southern New Years Good Luck Food, tab on over the "Mika" tab in the top menu and read the latest episode of "Mika's Time".