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New Year’s Day traditions

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by. It seems like just yesterday was the first day of 2011. Of course, with New Year’s Day come certain traditions that, where I’m from, are ingrained in you from childhood to observe. I’m not usually a superstitious person, but it doesn’t hurt to start off the new year on the right foot. Most of these traditions have to do with food, which is probably where the expression, “Eat poor on New Year’s, and eat fat the rest of the year,” comes from. I know some of the traditions are mainly relegated to the  South, but I’m not sure about all of them.

  • Black-eyed peas- Eating black-eyed peas brings good luck in the new year.
  • Greens- Eating greens (usually collards or turnips) ensures that you prosper.
  • Cornbread- Cornbread is another one that has to do with finances; it’s supposed to represent gold.
  • Pork- You should only eat pork (instead of poultry or beef) on New Year’s Day. Supposedly, because chickens scratch backwards, cows stand still, and pigs root forwards. Plus, pork is traditionally always cooked with collards or turnips to season them.
  • Doing laundry- You shouldn’t wash clothes on New Year’s Day because a family member will die sometime during the year. I’ve also heard that it means you’ll wash away your luck in the new year. 
  • Sweeping- No sweeping the floors lest you sweep out all of your good luck, too.
I’m not sure how true this story is, but I’ve read that the tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens dates back to the Civil War. When Union troops invaded the South, they destroyed or stole most crops, but left behind black-eyed peas and greens because they considered them to be suitable as food only for animals. Rich in nutrients, the peas and greens enabled Southerners to survive. 
Anyways, I have the turnips along with bacon and some pork chops for seasoning cooking (pork chops because my mom loves them when they’ve been cooked in greens), as well as black-eyed peas and candied yams. Just before it’s done, I’ll start the hot water cornbread. So, I think I’ve got all of my bases covered.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a wonderful new year full of love, happiness, wealth, and good health.

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