What to Make on New Year’s Day in the South

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A Traditional Southern New Year’s Meal

Living in the South, there are many New Year’s traditions I had never heard of, since I grew up in the Midwest. I remember my first New Year’s with my in-laws, and being amused by the things you had to have on New Year’s or the next year wouldn’t go well. I was amused simply because I had never heard of this and I am not a superstitious person. I didn’t realize at the time that this was a “thing” here in the South.

So traditionally here in the southern United States, you have certain things you are supposed to eat every New Year’s Day, but there’s also a couple things you aren’t supposed to eat…because they bring bad luck. You don’t want to curse the new year before it has even started.

What Southerners Eat for New Year’s Day

So according to tradition (superstition) you are supposed to eat a few things every New Year’s Day to bring about good luck and fortune for the year to come.

How to Cook a Traditional Southern New Year's Day Meal | Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Peas or Beans

Peas or beans look a little bit like a coin, and represent wealth. The most common dish is Black-eyed Peas, but some families will have split peas, pinto beans, lentils or something else along those lines.


Greens aren’t too hard to figure out. They represent money, specifically “folding money” or dollar bills. For this, things like turnip greens, collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or some other sort of “greens” are served.


So the story behind pork, is that because a pig “roots forward,” it means that going forward into the year will be fortunate. But you should never eat chicken on New Year’s because a chicken scratches backwards. You also aren’t supposed to eat lobster, since it swims backwards. (Does that include shrimp or crawfish?) That’s “bad luck.”

Of course, I quit eating pork some time ago, (Read: Why I Quit Eating Pork) but I still enjoy these recipes using turkey, chicken or beef.

Is that “bad luck?” Who cares? I don’t believe in superstitions anyways. But I do love good food!


Cornbread is the gold! Not only that, but you can’t hardly eat peas, beans or greens without cornbread. It just not done.

New Year's Day Menu Suggestions

Don’t Forget Dessert!

You can’t have a holiday meal and skip dessert. Here’s some of my favorite old-fashioned desserts to serve on New Year’s…or any occasion for that matter.

New Year's Day Desserts

Do YOU have any New Year’s traditions?

How ever you start your year off, I wish you a wonderful New Year filled with blessings!

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