One of the wive’s tales I grew up with was that how you start a year is very important to you and that it determines how you might spend the remainder of the year. While I don’t take stock in it, I do purpose to do some of the things I love and avoid all conflict. Last year I was in the midst of a sickness that lasted until April. At least, I didn’t have it all year and I am in even better health today.
I went to Trip Savvy to learn of the other superstitions that I was raised with growing up. On January 1st, you had to have black-eyed peas, rice and hog jowl. Yep! You read that right. If you didn’t, you would not be healthy and prosperous.
Trip Savvy relates:
Most Southerners will tell you that it dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food (like purple hull peas).
The peas were not worthy of General Sherman’s Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies, and survived the winter. Peas became symbolic of luck.
Black-eyed peas were also given to slaves, as were most other traditional New Year’s foods. Let’s face it: a lot of the stuff we eat on New Year’s is soul food. One explanation of the superstition says that black-eyed peas were all the southern slaves had to celebrate with on the first day of January, 1863. What were they celebrating? That was the day when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. From then on, peas were always eaten on the first day of January.
Others say that since the south has generally always been the place for farming, black-eyed peas are just a good thing to celebrate with in the winter.
I probably need to explain what a hog jowl is—many people have never heard of this cut of pork. It’s the “cheek” of the hog. It tastes and cooks similar to thick cut bacon. It’s a tough cut that is typically smoked and cured. Hog jowl is used to season beans and peas, or fried and eaten like bacon.”
Now we do not use hog jowl. We generally have a ham for Christmas. So I use the ham bone with all its leftover meat and cook it with my black-eyed peas. It is said that if you eat hog jowl on New Year’s Day ,it will ensure health, prosperity and progress.
I love this factoid from Trip Savvy though: Pigs have also long symbolized progress. A pig can’t turn his head to look back without turning completely around, so it’s believed that pigs are always looking to the future.
They continue on with these southern superstitions by asking: Want to get rich? Here in the South, collard greens and corn bread bring the money on on New Year’s Day.
Collard greens (or any greens) sub for cabbage in the south because that’s what we grow here in the late fall. The southern tradition: each bite of greens you eat is worth $1,000 in the upcoming year.
Corn bread represents pocket money or spending money. It’s another soul food we eat on New Year’s. The tradition stems from the color of the bread. It’s color represented “gold” or “coin” money. Plus, it goes well with collard greens, peas and pork.
Well, that is how I was raised. Do I put my faith in these bits of folk lore? Absolutely not, but I think it is important to remember where you came from. I have never been alone in my journey even when there were times that I was sure that I was. Growing up, there were parents, grandparents, friends, family members, coworkers, teachers–who helped me journey through life. This past 17 years at Be in Health helped me build a solid foundation and added stepping stones. Some I chose to take and some I am just now taking.
Recently I realized another level of rebellion that has help my blessings at bay. I am cheerfully dealing with them. A recent visit with a friend helped me deal with things I had stuffed and not dealt with. I have a personal saying, maybe I picked up in my journey. I don’t remember. But it is that people with extra pounds are stuffing things that are too painful to deal with.
I am ready to walk through the fiery trials in 2018 believing I will come through not smelling of smoke. I am leaving this excess baggage behind spirit, soul and body and embracing life as never before. Hope you will join me.