Traditions run deep in southern families. They're the core of most of our celebrations and family gatherings. And they're particularly strong during the Christmas and New Year's seasons.
In just a few days, I'll cook and enjoy a meal nearly identical to the meal I've eaten on January 1 for my entire 62 years. A few items may change, but the constants on the plate are black-eyed peas and greens. Tradition says that those two dishes bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. The black-eyed peas represent coins and the greens represent dollars (or "folding money" as my Daddy used to say). The more you eat, the more of each you are to have during the New Year.
There's more to the peas and greens tradition than the wish for wealth, though. This is humble food. For some of us it is a reminder of where and from whom we came. The humble, but filling and satisfying, food that our farming ancestors provided for their families during the cold winter months. Humble food, humbly but graciously prepared and gratefully received by hard-working, humble families.
I know very well from where I come. I come from some of those humble, hard working, farming folks who appreciated what their Mamas put on the table for them. And I thank every one of them, the ones who came before, the ones who I knew and now miss, and the ones who are still here with us, for their part in making me who I am today.
From our home to yours, a very blessed and prosperous New Year!