It’s that time of year where we look back at the last 12 months and think about what we want to change or do better in the upcoming year. We set resolutions to be healthier, wealthier & happier. One of my goals is to start blogging along with all the usual resolutions of exercising more, drinking more water, etc. But on this specific day of the year, December 31st, I make sure I have all my housework done, laundry done & the necessary food for our New Year’s Day must eats. Now, you’re thinking “What?”. Let me tell you a little bit about my Granny Vaughn.
Mary Elizabeth Fuson Vaughn was the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman. She lived by that chapter. The sweetest little red head you would ever meet. Everyone loved her. She wasn’t a big talker but what she said was the was the law in our family. The E.F. Hutton of our family. Every year, a day or two before New Year’s, Granny would call to make sure we had our black eyed peas and hog’s jowl ready for January 1. And, remember, DO NOT wash any clothes on New Year’s Day. Over the years, when I mention the laundry superstition to people they say they haven’t heard that one. So that made wonder what the significance of the foods we eat other and traditions that I haven’t heard of before. Some might call these ‘Old Wives’ Tales’ but I think they’re probably closer to modern day New Year’s resolutions. Let’s head to the Google machine….
We always have black eyed peas, hog’s jowl, turnip or collard greens and cornbread. This is definitely the Southern version of New Year’s Day food but I wonder if the hog’s jowl is a Tennessee thing?
- Black eyed peas – These represent pennies or good luck. If you eat them, you will have lots of pennies in the coming year. This one dates back to the Civil War and there are lots of superstitions around how you eat them. Some say you should eat 365 peas and my friend Leah says you’re supposed to leave one on the plate. And for you black eyed pea haters, hold your nose while you eat at least one. It might bring you good luck.
- Hog’s jowl/pork – Pork represents prosperity. I guess I kind of knew this one but we found several articles that mentioned “a chicken scratches backward, a cow stands still and a pig roots forward.” Any pork is good but we stick to the jowl in our house after finding a really good pre-packaged version (Cumberland Gap) that’s similar to bacon. As a kid, I was not a fan of hog’s jowl. The kind we got at our small town grocery store was cut thick and chewy.
- Greens – Greens represent paper money and wealth. Eat your greens! We prefer collard or turnip greens but lots of people cook cabbage or have sauerkraut. My Aunt Pauline used to make a hot German Potato Salad that incorporated the greens & pork.
- Cornbread – Cornbread represents gold. If you use the cornbread to soak up the remaining liquid (pot likker) from your greens, you’ll be even better. I know this one is a Southern superstition. If you have ever been to other parts of the country and tried their cornbread…bless their hearts. That’s not cornbread. It’s cake. Granny Vaughn made the best cornbread. Ever.
- Laundry – Granny Vaughn’s hard rule of no laundry on New Year’s Day comes from the superstition that you will be washing that person out of your life. She was more of all clothes needed to be washed and put away before New Year’s Day. I fall into the we’re just not doing any laundry camp.
- No housework – I think this was has some connection to the laundry. My Aunt Linda said she thought it came from tired housewives wanting a day off work.
- Garbage – Don’t take any garbage or anything out of your house on New Year’s Day. This one is probably related to the housework one.
- First Footing/Lucky Bird – I have never heard anything about this one before. The first person that enters your home after midnight should be tall, dark & handsome male. Supposedly, the first person that enters your home will influence your year.
- Money – Don’t pay bills or lend money on New Year’s Day. You will be paying out money all year long.
When I asked for people to give me their traditions on Facebook, my friend Tracy said “whatever you’re doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’ll be doing all year long.” I think that goes with Granny’s “what ever you’re doing on New Year’s Day, you’ll be doing all year long.” My suggestion is to spend the day with the people that you love and eat your New Year’s foods.
P.S. Here’s a picture of my sweet little Granny Vaughn giving me the side eye.