KENTUCKY, USA — On New Year’s Day in the south, it’s all about what you eat that some say can set you up for a successful year. That means your meal on New Year's Day should include collard greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread. They’re said to bring good health, wealth and luck.
In some southern states, the meal is also called Hoppin' John.
It isn’t quite clear when or why these foods became New Year’s Day staples, but according to History.com, the first recipes for hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks that date back to the 1840s, although the mixture of dried peas, rice and pork was made by enslaved people in the South long before then. It seems to have originated in the Low Country of South Carolina.
The legume originated from West Africa and has often been included in meals for special occasions. Many believe the swelling of the cooked bean symbolizes the increasing of good fortunes.
Here are the New Year’s Day classics and what they are said to represent:
- Greens: Whether they’re collard, turnip or mustard, greens on your plate represent wealth. Try this delicious and savory collard greens recipe from Our State Magazine.
- Black-eyed peas: They represent coins, luck, or the promise of prosperity. Here's a recipe with both black-eyed peas and collards by Our State Magazine.
- Cornbread: Not only is it delicious, but it also is supposed to represent gold. Eating it brings with it the hope of extra spending money in the new year. Try this classic skillet cornbread recipe.
- Pork: Pork is said to bring prosperity and progress, because pigs root ahead as they eat, as opposed to backward like chickens or turkeys. Try this hearty fried pork chops with onion gravy recipe.
- Hog Jowl: On New Year’s Day, hog jowls are traditionally eaten in the south to ensure health, prosperity and progress, according to Southern Culture and History website. Jowls are the "cheek" of the hog and when cooked, they resemble thick-cut bacon. Hog jowls are used to season black-eyed peas or fried and eaten alone, the article says.