Black-eyed peas, greens and good luck in 2011

Published 6:39 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year’s Day comes wafting in after the champagne bubbles have popped and the Moon Pie has dropped.

And, there is hardly a soul south of the Mason-Dixon Line who doesn’t follow an old family tradition by pulling a chair up to the dinner table to dine on black-eyed peas and turnip greens on New Year’s Day.

“My grandmother cooked black-eyed peas and turnip greens on New Year’s and so do we,” said Jerry Peak. “The peas are for good luck and you’re supposed to eat 365 of them so you’ll have good luck every day of the year. The greens are for money. And, for more good fortune, you are supposed to eat hog jowl because a hog roots forward and you want to move forward in the New Year.”

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Shirley Drosyk said her family, too, is steeped in the traditions of New Year’s as is just about everybody that she knows.

“Doesn’t everybody eat greens and peas on New Year’s?” she said, laughing.

Drosyk doesn’t take any chances with luck. She cooks enough black-eyed peas for anybody that comes around on New Year’s Day and a big pot of turnip greens.

She also puts on a pot of collards and another of cabbage. “You can’t have too much money.”

Hog jowls and ham are served along with the three greens.

“You don’t eat anything but pork on New Year’s,” Drosyk said. “No chicken or beef is to be eaten on the first day of the year.”

Eating chicken will cause one’s feathers to be ruffled all year long and eating beef will make the year a tough one.

Pork brings good luck and you’ll need it if you aren’t careful what you do on New Year’s Day, Drosyk said.

“If you wash clothes on New Year’s Day, you’ll be washing the clothes of a dead person before the year is out,” she said. “It’s the same thing for sewing. You’ll be sewing for a dead person. And, if you sweep the floor, you’ll sweep out all your luck.”

The first man who enters the house on New Year’s will set the course for the New Year.

“If he’s successful in the New Year, you will be, too,” Drosyk said. “If he’s not, you won’t be either so you have to be careful about who you let in your house on New Year’s.”

Peak said that the “belief” handed down by his grandmother was that a man should be the first person to enter a house on New Year’s in order for the house to prosper.

“But he can’t enter empty handed,” he said. “He has to bring something in with him. And, what I heard was that washing clothes would bring bad luck and that, if you swept the floor, you would sweep somebody out of your life.”

Peak said he doesn’t really believe in all those superstitions and Drosyk might not either. However, both of them will pull their chairs up to a bowl of black-eyed peas and a bowl of greens “just to be on the safe side.”

And Drosyk will also slip a penny on the windowsill for good luck. “No use in taking a chance.”