The traditional lucky foods for this area are black-eyed peas, cabbage and hog jowls. I tend to do a bit of substitution. Black-eyed peas aren't my favorites, so I just add some to a bean soup and use fatback instead of jowls. I throw in a few carrots, since they're considered lucky in some places, add the cabbage and make cornbread. Yum! In some places, other greens such as collards take the place of cabbage.
Of course, the next question is, "WHY these things?" Symbolism. Pork has long been a sign of good eating-- "high off the hog" as it were. Some say that because pigs root in a forward motion, it means you will gain in the new year. Eating chicken is said to be unlucky, because chickens scratch in a backward motion. (I think the chickens have been taking psychology notes from the Chik-Fil-A cows.) Beans are considered lucky in many places, because they look a bit like coins. Blackeyed peas are usually the bean of choice for the American South, though the form may vary a bit. (In Louisiana, they're the main ingredient in "hoppin' john,' along with rice and pork. Other ingredients may vary.) Carrots cut into rounds also look like coins, and cabbage is said to look like paper money. "Cabbage" was a slang word for money at one time.
Remember the dark haired man? In Scotland and a few other places, the first person to cross the thresh hold in the new year foretells the future of the household. This is called "First Footing." The best person is a good looking dark haired man, preferably one bearing gifts. (That would seem to be a no-brainer.) A fair-haired woman isn't a good omen. Some folks have been known to stage a first footing by having aforementioned dark haired man stationed outside the house so he can enter just after midnight, thus assuring good luck.
There are a host of other superstitions. One of my favorite sites has a good list; just click here: http://www.snopes.com/holidays/newyears/beliefs.asp
And if you don't read this until after New Year's and do everything wrong, then just wait until February 3 and you can try to set things right. That's the date of the lunar New Year for 2011 as celebrated in many countries, including China, Japan and Korea. It's the Year of the Rabbit-- or, in some places, the Cat. Guess which version I like better!
|Melon: Party Animal.|
Happy Mew Year!