New Year's Eve is a time to reflect on the past year and celebrate the new beginnings that lie ahead. Here in the South, we have our own traditions to ring in the new year. Whether old wives' tales or tried and true magic, some of these practices have remained a staple in many southern households for centuries. No matter which traditions you observe, you're sure to be surrounded by the southern trifecta of friends, family, and food!
1.) Fireworks: No New Year's Eve celebration is complete without colorful explosions illuminating the sky when the clock strikes midnight. While blowing stuff up is just fun, our traditions in the South tend to have a deeper meaning here. Fireworks are significant on New Year's because they are said to scare off evil spirits of the year's past. Noise from fireworks and the banging of pots and pans can be heard across the South on New Year's as we ward off evil and welcome the upcoming year.
2.) Play And Sing Auld Lang Syne: Straight from the church choir, many southerners gather 'round a piano and sing the New Year's classic: Auld Lang Syne. The song's melody is synonymous with New Year's and performed across the country, but here in the South, our passion for musical expression and community gathering make this a beloved tradition held in the company of family and friends. This toast to the new year embodies southern values of thankfulness, community, and reflective appreciation.
3.) Eat Black-Eyed Peas: This southern tradition dates all the way back to the Civil War when Union troops raided Confederate food supplies but left black-eyed peas because they were thought to be animal food. This good fortune blessed the Confederate soldiers with food to eat in a situation that could have left them starving. Many southerners cook the peas with a coin, and whoever finds the coin in their helping is said to be extra lucky for the upcoming year. Others count and consume exactly 365 peas to bring them good fortune every single day. No matter how they're cooked and consumed, they are said to signify wealth and fortune for the year ahead.
4.) Cook Collard Greens: If you want the next year to bring cash, start the year with another type of green -- collard greens. This classic southern dish is said to bring good luck both in the form of cash and good health. Luckily for us, collard greens are still in season by the time January first rolls around. Prepare them for your New Year's celebration, and wait for the cash to roll in!
5.) The First Guest: According to tradition, the first person who enters your home through the front door in the new year symbolizes what is to come. Down south, our wrap-around porches are often adorned with welcome mats that invite visitors inside. Pay attention to the first guest that crosses the threshold in the new year. Hopefully, they symbolize peace, beauty, and warmth so you can start the year right!
No matter how you celebrate New Year's this year, remember to do it safely and surround yourself with loved ones!