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Dec 28, 2020

It’s all about the symbolism—wrapped in delicious dishes.

Good luck meals are a long-standing tradition and a way to welcome in a New Year with hopes of good fortune, prosperity, health, and well being. In the Southern United States, the “lucky Southern supper” has a long tradition and is as beloved and anticipated as Thanksgiving or Christmas feasts.

Although there are plenty of variations as to what’s included or how dishes are prepared, there are several key elements that find their way to the holiday table, because of what they symbolize. Here’s how to put together a Southern-style feast that will welcome the New Year.

Must have: Cornbread

Symbolizes: gold, riches

Sweet or savory, with honey or jalapenos or bacon grease or

Try it: This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen uses pureed corn to guarantee a perfect pan of cornbread.

Must have: Greens

Symbolizes: cash

Greens such as collard (or mustard or chard) may be humble fare, but they represent an abundance of paper money and they’re delicious when dressed with smoked ham hocks, garlic and apple cider vinegar.

Try it: This traditional recipe is full of flavor.

Must have: Black-eyed peas or beans

Symbolizes: coins, money

This tradition is thought to be traced back to the enslaved Africans brought to the South, who commonly ate black-eyed peas with rice. Peas or beans represent coins or wealth.

Try it: This brothy recipe for black-eyed peas by African Bites food blogger includes sausage and bacon in a variation called “Hoppin’ John” and is completely filling and delicious.

Must have: Pork

Symbolizes: Prosperity

A baked ham, pork roast, or pork chops are the go-to for Southern New Years' dinners. Why? A pig roots forward to eat and represents progress. (By comparison, a chicken scratches backward, a cow stands still).

Try it: These skillet-roasted pork chops from Southern food blog Syrup and Biscuits get a gorgeous browned color in a cast-iron skillet.

TIP: What not to eat

In some parts of the South, it’s traditional to not eat lobster or similar shellfish because they travel backward when they swim, which could symbolize moving backward instead of forwards in the new year.