Appalachian Wednesday–New Year’s Traditions

MidnightI married a southern boy, so my New Year’s traditions now include collard greens, black-eyed peas, and football. Fine traditions all! Especially when you add in some corn bread and thick-cut bacon.

But back home in WV, we have slightly different traditions. Mom is more likely to cook pork and cabbage. I didn’t taste collards until I was in high school. Of course, it represented the same thing–green cabbage or collards for greenbacks–wealth in the new year.

There was more to it than eating, though. Growing up, Mom told me to be careful what I did on New Year’s Day, because that’s what I’d be doing the rest of the year. (Hmm, no cleaning the bathroom for me, today!) Grandma put a great deal of stock in who first entered the house on January 1. That person would set your luck for the coming year. (This tradition is called first-footing in Scotland.)

When I was a teen, we’d stay up ’til midnight, drink carbonated grape juice from wine glasses, and light sparklers out in the yard. We were cautioned not to drop the spent wires, lest the mower hit them come spring. I got probably the worst burn of my life when I snatched up a still hot sparkler I dropped. Hope that didn’t set my luck for the year!

Of course, all of that’s just superstitious fun. These days we enjoy a special, New Year’s Eve dinner with champagne at our usual hour, watch some TV, and are typically in bed by 10 p.m. We eat collards and black-eyed peas on January 1, not because we long for wealth, but because they’re TASTY. Hopefully someone we love will first-foot it across our threshold at some point, but we don’t pretend we’re not home if we think they’ll bring bad luck.

And just like that it’s 2014. Or maybe it’s just Wednesday. A day off from work when we can cheer our favorite team on to victory, eat food with people we love, and turn yet another page on the calendar. I might even sneak some writing in.

Good traditions, all.

4 thoughts on “Appalachian Wednesday–New Year’s Traditions

  1. Mom

    We didn’t have pork OR cabbage and the first person of the new year to come in our door was Dusty today bringing my computer back. Sure enjoyed the game yesterday!

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