Why you should eat greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread on New Year’s Day

CHARLOTTE — The South is a special place full of dialects and drawls, and distinctive culinary standards and traditions that meander across state lines. It’s also a region full of folklore and superstitions, and New Year’s Eve traditions are no exception.

Greens, black-eyed peas for good luck

Greens and black-eyed peas are said to bring good luck and prosperity for the upcoming year, which explains their prevalence on many New Year’s menus. It’s a practice which traces its origins back to the Civil War, where Southerners were left with less-prized crops in fields passed over by Union soldiers, who were destroying more lucrative crops. Over time, greens and black-eyed peas, both nutrient rich, became a staple for Southern soldiers’ survival during winter. There are some who even believe you should consume exactly 365 peas — one for each day of the coming year. As for the greens, it’s believed that with more eating comes more prosperity.

Hog jowls are also held in high regard in the South, a region, of course, that prizes its swine. Pigs here were once considered a sign of health and prosperity, and during hard times an entire family could survive a rough winter on just one pig. As with greens and black-eyed peas, eating cured pork is said to represent progress in the upcoming year. A pig cannot turn its head, which means it’s always looking forward.

Cornbread brings good fortune

Last, but certainly not least: cornbread. Rich in flavor, yellow in color, this universally beloved bread has been compared to the color of gold and thought to bring good fortune and wealth with each tasty mouthful.

Whether or not you’re one for superstitions, these foods do hold practical application. On the one hand, you’ll be healthy, wealthy and happy. On the other, you’ll have a heaping plate of tasty Southern cuisine.

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