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Traditional Southern New Year’s Day dinner

December 31, 2010
By

Are you eating Southern style to ring in the New Year?

Here’s a Southern traditional meal designed to bring you good luck in the New Year. This New Year’s Day dinner features delicious skillet cornbread, easy seasoned mustard greens, spicy black-eyed peas, hot cooked rice, and a wonderful peach upside-down cake.

What are your family’s New Year’s Day food traditions, and why? Lucky black-eyed peas? Cabbage or slaw? Greens and cornbread? Is rice on the menu?

What is the significance behind the food we Southerners eat on this special day? Here’s an excellent piece on this subject that unfortunately uses the language of our conquerors (not capitalising the “s” in Southerners and South and using the words “Civil War” for Lincoln’s invasion of our country) to describe the meaning behind our traditional feast.

We have lots of holiday chances to gorge ourselves in the south, but New Year ‘s Day dinner is a horse of a different color. On most holidays, we southerners eat like kings, but on New Year’s Day we eat like paupers.

Union and Confederate soldiers, along with American civilians, suffered in ways more than just hunger during the American Civil War [sic]. The history of southerners serving black-eyed peas and collard greens began with Union soldiers raiding southern homes of all the most edible foods they could find. The Union soldiers took what they wanted from farms and homes in the south and left only the food that they considered undesirable, such as greens and fatback. Southerners learned to cook these undesirable foods, in order to survive, in a way that is now considered by southerners as good eatin’. Movies like Ride with the Devil and Cold Mountain remind us of the terrible tragedy of the American Civil War [sic].

On New Year’s Day, we remember our southern ancestors and how the American Civil War [sic] affected so many American lives. We usually eat black-eyed peas flavored with hog jowl and collard greens for dinner on New Year’s Day for good luck and in remembrance of times of hardship and courage. The black-eyed peas represent coins and the collard greens represent dollar bills. It is said that if you eat these foods on New Year’s Day, you will have plenty of money that coming year. Whether it really works or not, it’s a tradition that southerners follow for dinner every New Year’s Day. Here’s the way I cook my black-eyed peas and collard greens on new year’s day. I always add Louisiana hot sauce on my black-eyed peas and the collards. Fresh spring onions and a pan of cornbread baked in the old iron skillet make this New Year’s Day dinner complete.

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  • Leanora

    Great article.
    I had a friend from Alabama who used to tell me that it was good luck to eat black eyed peas on New Years Day. I never knew the history behind this tradition though.
    Thanks.

  • http://mises.org/Community/members/Trevor/default.aspx Trevor Benson

    This is an excellent article. I never really knew why my family eats black eyed peas on New Years. I knew it was for good luck but that was all. I also have to admit that we didn’t know to eat greens as well, so we’ve added it to the menu this year. :) Thanks for the information!

  • Ginny

    Just finished our dinner consisting of black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread, ham, and then some other things for anyone who turned up their nose at the good stuff. Happy New Year everyone!

  • Tasha

    I always knew to cook these items for luck or money but it was until I had to do an essay with research I found out the true reason. Thank you now I know the4 meaning and I can spread the word.

  • Evang. F. Davis

    Good word. Although I don’t believe in luck but in “blessings, I think this information is well worth sharing. Thank you. What is the web address for this article? I want to share this knowledge so I need to get it in my e-mail. God Bless you always . Evangelist F. Davis



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