I recently transplanted from Boston to Charlotte, North Carolina. The past few weeks I have noticed a large amount of collard greens and black-eyed peas on display at the front of nearly every supermarket I have been to. I asked around, and it turns out these items are sort of New Year’s food traditions. Apparently, eating these specific items gives you luck in the coming year. With that I set out to find out why some things are New Year’s food traditions around the world.
First thing’s first, these black-eyed peas. Up until my move to the south, the only black-eyed peas I ever saw on New Year’s Eve were Fergie and Will.I.Am singing Boom Boom Pow on the Ryan Seacrest show. Yea, I miss Dick Clark too…
So what gives with these ugly little legumes? Well apparently they look like coins. To be honest, I don’t see the resemblance but perhaps I haven’t had enough champagne yet. Either way, if eating these things is going to make it more likely I strike it rich in the new year, I’m game.
That brings us to the traditional accompaniment of greens. Here in the Old North State, the tradition is collards, but from my crack research, it appears any greens, including kale or spinach will suffice. The methodology here is that green is the color of money. Eat these leafy power foods, and supposedly the money fairy will sprinkle rich man’s luck all over you in your drunken sleep after a rockin’ new year’s eve.
If you feel like getting a head start on your resolution of being a healthier you, make some green kale juice, mix it with some pepper infused vodka, and tell people that drinking this concoction will make you rich and gives you abs in the new year. Then laugh as you see your drunk friends scrambling to find where the party’s host keeps the kale juice.
Another tradition I came across is the Argentinean one of eating beans. The folklore here is that eating beans on New Year’s Day will help ensure you keep your job, or find a new one. The funny thing about traditions, is that if there is only one other option of things that can happen (you will be unemployed), than odds are the tradition has a pretty high success rate. My recommendation, eat nachos with beans on New Year’s Day while watching football and apply for a job at Google. Or my preferred tradition, have your cabbie stop at a Taco Bell and pick up a bean burrito or one of those new Stuffed Nacho things (baller food right there!). If you chose to Live Mas and indulge in fourth meal, apply to Twitter instead. What’s the worst that could happen?
Speaking of multiple meals, in Estonia, people eat up to 12 meals to ring in the new year! This comes from the Estonian belief that with each meal eaten, you gain the strength of that many men in the new year. But make sure a portion of each meal is left unfinished for the spirits of ancestors who visit the house on New Year’s Eve. Far be it from me to mock an entire culture’s tradition, but I feel a simpler explanation is possible here. Either this is a way to pump up the scale so it is easier to hit that resolution of losing 20 pounds, or there really is a correlation between Estonia and getting stoned.
Apples and Honey are a tradition for the Jewish people. Well this is for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. However, this is the only tradition I have personal experience, so I figured I would share how my people try to achieve a sweet new year.
In France, the tradition is to eat goose, oysters, fois gras, and champagne. Once again proving why the French are the biggest food snobs in the world.
The Spanish and Mexican people have a tradition of eating 12 grapes or raisins, in the last 12 seconds of the year. Thus providing themselves with good luck through each of the 12 months of the following year. If you really want to spice up your night, Take 12 shots of Three Olives: Grape in the last 12 minutes of the year. I guarantee you won’t remember if you didn’t have someone to kiss as the ball drops in Times Square.
Whatever your tradition is, keep two things in mind: Luck is what you make it, and don’t drink and drive. Have a safe and happy 2014!