5 New Year's Traditions Southerners Won't Be Forgetting This Year

For good luck’s sake.

If anything, we believe in starting the New Year off on a high note, and if it takes adhering to age-old traditions to do that, ladle us a bowl of collards and call us superstitious. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are full of opportunities to bring on good luck, ward off ill will, and kick off the year with blessings and fortune to come. You just have to know what to do—and not to do.

Don't test fate and karma on the first day of the year. Follow these five classic New Year's traditions this year.

Eat Your Peas and Greens

In fact, there's a whole menu of foods to eat on New Year's Day to bring on good luck and fortune. For Southerners, the most important are the black-eyed peas and collard greens. Add a skillet of cornbread to symbolize gold coins. Who doesn't want those? Cabbage and pork are also bountiful foods to include in your New Year's feast.

Instant Pot Black-eyed Pea Soup
Photography: Alison Miksch, Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland, Food Styling: Melissa Gray

Burn a Wish

Many cultures practice this New Year's Eve tradition, which involves writing a wish on a piece of paper and burning it on the night of New Year's Eve. Even better if you aim for midnight. This can be a wish for the future or a resolution that you hope to keep at the start of the year.

Make Lots of Noise

Turns out, the thing that some scrooges dub annoying is actually good luck, so pull out the party blowers and noisemakers! Making noise at midnight on New Year's Eve is said to shoo away bad spirits and ill intentions as you enter a new year. Feel free to practice it the next day, too. You know, for extra good luck.

Be Choosy About Your First Guest

The first visitor superstition is all about setting the tone. Spanning back centuries in British lore before being practiced throughout the South, the first visitor to cross your threshold and enter your home can be a bringer of good fortune—or not. That's why it is said to be important to watch out for whoever becomes your first visitor (sometimes referred to as the "first footer") on New Year's Day.

Stock the Pantry

This one goes back to the heyday of agriculture in the South and other regions, when some families depended on farming for their yearly living and also for their own pantries. Entering a new year with a stocked pantry symbolizes a bountiful year to come, and it never hurts to have more sugar, flour, and snacks in there anyway, right? This tradition gets bonus points for being useful.

Heed these New Year's traditions, and you'll be heading in the right direction come 2022.

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