Troy residents cook traditional meal to bring in new year

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year! Or maybe not.

As Southerners, we hold to tradition. And, according to tradition, what we eat and what we do on New Year’s Day will determine whether or not we have a “happy” New Year.

So, time’s a-wasting.

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If you don’t have pork of some kind, greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread for dinner, then make a quick trip to the grocery store and put a New Year’s Day meal on the supper table.

Alyce Jiles of Troy was one of the many shoppers pushing around a buggy of greens in preparation for a Happy New Year.

“If you eat greens on New Year’s you’ll have green money to spend all year,” Jiles said. “It can be collards or turnips either one. I like collards.”

When cooking greens, Jiles said a you need to flavor them with a piece of hog meat.

“I like fatback, ham hocks or hog howl,” she said. “Either one flavors greens.”

The cooking meat serves the purpose of pork on New Year’s Day. But Jiles said a platter of pig on the table adds much to the New Year’s meal. The belief or superstition is that a pig or hog roots forward. So eating hog meat is assurance of moving forward in the New Year.

“We always have black-eye peas because they are good fortune, too,” Jiles said. “If you have dry peas, you’ll have money in your pocket all year long.”

Hoppin’ John is a traditional New Year’s Day meal for many Southerners. It’s a one-pot meal of black-eyed peas, ham hock and rice that assures good luck in the coming year. But most Southerners don’t put all their hopes for a good year in one “pot.” They prefer to put the traditional meal of peas, greens and pork on the table.

And, what’s a New Year’s Day meal without cornbread.

Eating cornbread on New Year’s means wealth, not just copper pennies jingling in your pocket or even folding money in your wallet (billfold). The color of cornbread resembles gold and that means great riches. Just to make sure, those riches come your way, added kernels of corn to the bread for an extra “helping” of gold nuggets.

Jiles said she doesn’t put her hopes of a happy New Year in what she puts on the table, but it’s tradition and “you can’t put a better dinner on the table.”

New Year’s Day is a fun day. One that carries with it superstitions that bring either good luck or foreboding.

When leaving the house on New Year’s Day, if you take something out, even the garbage, you must bring something, even a stick, back in. If not, woe be to you.

On New Year’s, you must pay off your bills or there will not be a day in the New Year that you are not “beholden” to someone.

If you cry on New Year’s, you’ll be crying all year long. The same is true of laughing.

So, even in you feel liking crying, laugh instead.

Do some work on New Year’s so you will have the health to work all year long. The more work you do, the more you will be able to do.

At midnight, open all the doors so the Old Year can go out to make room for the New Year and all its blessings. Some people make loud noises at the coming of the New Year. The noises scare away evil spirits and wake up the neighbors so they can ring in the New Year.

The wind will tell the tale of the New Year. At the dawning of the New Year, if the wind blows from the north, expect a bad weather year. If it blows from the south, good weather and good times are ahead. An eastern wind signals calamities in the New Year. If the wind is from the west, milk and fish will be in good supply but a most important person will die. If there is no wind, the year 2019 will be joyful and prosperous for all, no matter whether they ate greens, peas and pork or a New York strip or a hot dog with onion and chili.