(WFXR) — We are rapidly approaching 2022 and many people have one tradition or another to bring good luck in the New Year. For many, that involves eating special foods.
Across the South and throughout Virginia, many are preparing to eat black-eyed peas, greens, and cornbread for good luck and fortune on New Year’s Day.
There are several theories as to why, but the old saying is 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 of all their food, leaving behind only the pungent black-eyed peas.
Others claim black-eyed peas were poor people’s food and were given to livestock which inspired the old Southern saying “Eat Poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year.”
Another writer suggested you had to eat 365 black-eyed peas for good luck, but that seems a bit excessive even if you like them. In case you are wondering, black-eyed peas are not peas at all. They are actually a bean.
Another New Year’s Eve food tradition is to eat collard greens or other leafy greens. They represent the color of “folding” money and eating them is supposed to ensure you have a financially prosperous new year. Tradition holds that each 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 have gold in your pocket for the rest of the year.
Another Southern tradition is eating pork, especially hog jowls, for prosperity in the upcoming year. Supposedly the fatter the pig you eat on Jan. 1, the fatter your wallet will be for the next 12 months.
Hog jowls can be sliced thin and prepared like bacon. They used to be considered “rich people’s” food. In fact, that’s where the phrase, “eating high on the hog” comes from.
The meat closest to the head of the pig was considered the choicest and most expensive cuts. Cheek meat was considered a delicacy and given to the head of the household or a special guest.
Many of other cultures have their own good luck foods, but these have been traditional in the South for many generations. Whether or not you get good luck from eating black-eyed peas, hog jowls, cornbread, or collard greens may just depend on if you like eating them.