Archived Story

Locals observe New Year’s traditions, superstitions

Published 6:00pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

What if one serving of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day unlocked 365 days of good luck for a person?

Skeptics might laugh, but the possibility—however small it may be—of finding fortune in something as small as a pea is always there for people worldwide who adhere to commonly known traditions and superstitions associated with New Year’s Day.

The Southern traditions related to eating foods like black-eyed peas and collard greens on the first day of a new calendar year are often linked to increasing one’s luck and money.

Nickki Gore, owner of Main Street Café in Clanton, said she plans to serve black-eyed peas and collard greens at her restaurant on New Year’s Eve until 2 p.m. since the restaurant will be closed on New Year’s Day.

“I grew up with that tradition in my family,” Gore said of eating peas and greens. “We always had those. My mother’s mother made them every New Year’s before she passed away. You had to have them on New Year’s Day for money and luck.”

Gore said the café serves peas every day and collard greens about once a week.

“We have some type of pea every day,” she said. “Most of my customers prefer the other type of peas over the black-eyed peas. I’ll just have them on New Year’s Eve.”

Chilton County Extension Coordinator Gay West said her family’s tradition is to eat black-eyed peas and green vegetables (coleslaw instead of collards or turnip greens) on Jan. 1.

Another food tradition symbolic of future blessings was the honey-dipped apple, a popular ancient Hindu food, according to a past Extension article provided by West.

The apples were always accompanied by a benediction asking for “a good and sweet year,” the article said.

Also, ancient Persians exchanged eggs at New Year’s to symbolize the beginning of life, and many Hindus still give their friends lemons for the same reason.

A custom prevalent in the United States—particularly in the South—is to serve “Hoppin’ John,” a mixture of black-eyed peas cooked with rice, meat, hog jowl or ham hocks, and vegetables.

The Clanton Advertiser asked readers on Facebook this week what their New Year’s traditions and superstitions are.

The most common responses were to eat black-eyed peas and a type of green, and not to wash clothes on New Year’s Day.

Countless other traditions can be found in books and on the Internet even though they may not have anything to do with good luck and fortune in one’s life as a new year begins.

But what if they do?

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