(WFXR) – We are rapidly approaching 2022 and many people have one tradition or another to bring good luck on the New Year. For many, this involves eating special foods.
In the South and throughout Virginia, many prepare to eat black-eyed peas, leafy greens, and cornbread for luck and fortune on New Year’s Day.
There are several theories as to why, but the old adage says to eat “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.”
One theory claimed that during the Civil War, Union soldiers raided Southern cities for all their food, leaving behind only the black-eyed prickly peas.
Others claim that black-eyed peas were the food of the poor and were fed to cattle, which inspired the old Southern saying “Eat poor on New Years and eat fat the rest of the year”.
Another writer suggested you need to eat 365 black-eyed peas to be lucky, but that seems a bit excessive even if you like them. In case you were wondering, black-eyed peas aren’t peas at all. They are actually a bean.
Another New Year’s cooking tradition is to eat collard greens or other leafy greens. They represent the color of “folding” money and eating them is believed to assure you of a financially prosperous new year. Tradition has it that every bite of greens you eat is worth $1,000 in your wallet.
Let’s talk about cornbread, its golden color is said to guarantee you’ll have gold in your pocket for the rest of the year.
Another Southern tradition is to eat pork, especially pork jowls, for prosperity in the coming year. Supposedly, the bigger the pork you eat on January 1, the bigger your wallet will be for the next 12 months.
Pork jowls can be thinly sliced and prepared like bacon. They were once considered the food of the “rich”. In fact, that’s where the phrase “eating too much pork” comes from.
The meat closest to the pig’s head was considered the finest and most expensive cut. Cheek meat was considered a delicacy and given to the head of the family or a special guest.
Many other cultures have their own lucky foods, but these have been traditional in the South for many generations. Whether or not you get lucky eating black-eyed peas, hog jowls, cornbread, or collard greens just depends on whether you enjoy eating them.