It’s no secret that southern traditions run deep, especially in the winter months, and with Christmas left in the dust of Santa’s sled and Kwanzaa ceremonies under way, the holiday spirit is now shining toward New Year’s Day.
For many Americans, a laundry list of traditions, and a slew superstitions, will welcome 2010 with one common purpose.
From the dropping of the ball, the first kiss of the new year and money mantras to stocking up, work-related superstitions and dining on black eyed peas - each is geared at good luck and fortune in the coming year.
The dropping of the ball
It all begins at the final minute of the fading year, as billions of viewers watch one of the most famous American traditions, the dropping of the New Year Ball.
Weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds, measuring more than six feet in diameter and constructed of Waterford Crystal, the colossal ball has dropped down on New York City’s Times Square since 1907.
“At 11:59 p.m. (on New Year’s Eve), the ball begins its descent as millions of voices unite to count down the final seconds of the year, and celebrate the beginning of a new year full of hopes, challenges, changes and dreams,” according to www.timessquarenyc.org.
The first kiss
According to tradition, the first kiss of the New Year is more than a simple show of affection. While the kiss is commonly shared between significant others, the tradition suggests sharing a kiss with any loved one, ensures the ties will remain strong through the coming year. On the flip side, it is said that those who do not share a kiss with another at the stroke of midnight will be forced to endure a year of loneliness.
With many Americans struggling to make ends meet, perhaps money-related superstitions take precedence in the New Year.
To avoid paying the price all year long, superstition says never payback loans or lend money on Jan. 1.
Perhaps the oldest money-related tradition is the idea that every wallet in your home must be stocked with greenbacks to guarantee prosperity.
In relation to debt, superstitions warn consumers to pay their bills prior to Jan. 1. It has long been said that you should not spend any money on New Years Day - any outgoing money symbolizes your fortune going out in the New Year not and none coming to you.
Making sure your cupboard is not bare, your wallet is not empty and a full wardrobe is hanging in your closet means struggles related to such possessions will be less likely in the New Year. But remember, don’t save this task for Jan. 1, as it will be too late to change your fortune. Spending money on the first day of 2010 will mean mounting debt throughout the year.
With many wage earners enjoying a paid holiday on New Year’s Day, most are protected from the idea that laboring on the holiday will spell a year of bad luck. To guarantee the following 364 days are successful, it is said the working class should make sure to successfully complete a minor task related to their work, even if they don’t go near your place of employment on Jan. 1.
For luck’s sake, let’s eat!
As the southen saying goes: “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”
On the global scale, the worldwide belief that good luck would be known to those who ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day was recorded in the Babylonian Talmud - a central text of mainstream Judaism.
The standard code of Jewish law and practice is to consume such symbols of luck and prosperity, and the custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted in America by non-Jews around the time of the Civil War.
According to about.com, General Sherman’s troops ignored black-eyed peas when they tore through the South and destroyed or stole all other crops. The peas had been primarily used by southerners to feed livestock and slaves, but with little else surviving the pillaging of Union troops, the black-eyed pea took on an important role as a major food sources for surviving Confederates. In the south, the black-eyed pea became a symbol of humility.
While some traditions say consuming any amount of black-eyed peas on New Year’s day will lead to success, prosperity and good luck, other variations say for the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
Adding a shiny coin to the pot is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the coin receives the best luck for the New Year.
For a lip licking start to 2010, we have included a few luck laden recipes to start the year off right.