The New Year is about to arrive. That means food traditions galore!
What foods are good for serving for New Years?
In my own family, it was the black eyed peas. They had to be the very first thing eaten in the new year or terrible things would surely happen. Last year, having regarded our life as needing all the luck we could get, we did it all.
Cabbage-the green leaves are related to money, and many leaves make up a head of cabbage, so eating the cabbage is to bring more prosperity to your household. Cabbage can be eaten in any form, from sauerkraut to cole slaw to smothered cabbage–whatever suits your palate!
Black eyed peas (and almost any legume!)-The many peas in the pot, and their black eyes are to attract much good luck to your life. There is also a connection with fertility, prosperity, and plenty.
Yellow cornbread-yellow is the color of gold, and corn represents plenty (prosperity). The golden cornbread is to bring plenty of gold into your life.
Pork-Pigs have long represented plenty, and with their ability to not only survive, but even thrive on virtually anything, their fat figures definitely represent prosperity and plenty. Pork in any form serves the goal of a “lucky” food.
Fish-Fish represents plenty for many, and on the Gulf Coast, what better way to bring in the new year? Shrimp is supposed to represent long life (according to the Japanese, but don’t ask me why!) and fish eggs have an obvious connection with fertility and prosperity too. Fish also has a lot of connections with feasts, as a result of the long tradition of the Catholic Church forbidding red meat on religious holidays. Oysters are another food with connections with prosperity and fertility, so we have another excuse for a Gulf Coast favorite.
So besides what we SHOULD eat, what should we avoid?
Lobster & crawfish-these two creatures move backwards, and we don’t want that.
Poultry-these birds are all scratching backwards, another reason to avoid them too. In addition, they have wings, and we don’t want our luck to fly away!
Other traditions for luck-the first person to enter the house after the New Year bells toll should be a man bearing gifts such as coal, money and food items, ensuring the home has adequate money, warmth, and food. There should be prepared food in the house as well, as that means there will always be food in the house for the coming year. There should be some banging inside the house, as the old year (and bad luck) is chased out an open window or door, a different one from where the people entered the house. The head of the household, as well as all other adults, should have money in their wallets, ensuring that the household has sufficient money for the coming year.
So what traditions will you observe in the coming New Year? Prosperity is definitely on everyone’s minds as we strive towards economic recovery despite unemployment and underemployment. Many people are having a hard time, struggling to survive and cutting back on expenses. Don’t forget that as the New Year dawns, there are still many people without enough to eat, without heat, and on occasion, even without a home. Donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter! Don’t let your good deeds be a Christmas-only occasion. Even those of us who are barely getting by can afford to have a cheap meal one night a week and donate that little bit we saved on our own food budget towards a food bank or other charity of choice, helping the less fortunate towards regaining their independence. It’s always a case of “there, but for the grace of God, go I,” and we should all work towards helping our fellow man get enough to survive.