Midstate residents celebrate New Year’s with food and a few superstitions

alopez@macon.comDecember 31, 2013 

food_tradition

Clara Chandler stands in line at Belle Foods with smoked ham hocks and collard greens, two of her traditional favorites for the New Year’s Day menu.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

John Hudson and his wife, Pat, bought collard greens and black-eyed peas Tuesday at Fresh Market on Forsyth Road in Macon.

Eating greens and peas has been John Hudson’s New Year’s Day tradition for as long as he can remember.

“It’s supposed to be good fortune,” his wife said.

“And it tastes good, so we might as well not take any chances,” he added.

Tuesday, midstate residents stocked up on black-eyed peas, greens and pork for their traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal. Food and family dominate the holiday for most people, but many also hold New Year’s superstitions.

At Belle Foods in south Macon, Jamillah Patterson, her husband, Curtis, and her son Curtis II, paused to pick up an item at the prominent display near the entrance showcasing country-cured pigtails and jowls, corn muffin mix and black-eyed peas.

Jamillah, who was born in Macon, said her family has to greet the new year with no dirty laundry.

“We’ve been washing all morning,” she said.

Clara Chandler, who was born in Bibb County in 1941, picked up collards and smoked ham hocks to season them.

“Old traditions never die,” Chandler said.

She remembers her father putting pennies in every corner of the room for good luck, she said.

Another tradition her family followed for good luck was not allowing a female to be the first person who entered their home in the new year.

“If a female knocked on our door on New Year’s Day, she could not get in,” Chandler said.

Tyriq Lewis, his wife, Christina, and their three children bought collards at Belle Foods for good luck.

The family moved to Macon from Philadelphia in November, Christina said, and they like it here.

“Southern hospitality is not a myth,” Tyriq said. “It still exists.”

Rebecca Creasy, with the University of Georgia, specializes in educating the community about food and nutrition. She holds a doctorate in food science and nutrition, and part of her education was learning the culture behind different types of foods.

Black-eyed peas were one of the only food sources that Gen. William T. Sherman did not destroy in his march through the South in 1864, Creasy said.

His troops thought the beans were only fit for use as animal food.

“(Black-eyed peas) was one of the only foods that people in the South had to eat after the Civil War,” she said. “It saved them from starvation and so thereafter a lot of people viewed black-eyed peas as a symbol of good luck.”

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.

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