HOUSTON – Each year, some Houston-area shoppers head to grocery stores to pick up some New Year’s Eve staples, hoping to bring luck and good fortune in the year to come.
Lupita Reyes bagged two heads of cabbage and placed them into her shopping cart. While she prefers asparagus, on New Year’s Day the leafy green will be front-and-center on her menu.
“It’s a New Years’ tradition,” Reyes said, as she grabbed a bag of grapes, too.
“Yeah, just 12. One for each month,” Reyes explained.
From grapes to greens, pork and cornbread, New Year’s Day is chock full of foods thought to bring good fortune in the coming year.
“We always had collards bag black-eyed peas, for luck, and usually a pork roast,” said Diane Laumen.
And with each ingredient, usually, there’s a special recipe.
“We’re gonna have black-eyed peas and pork chops,” declared Jim Tisus.
“We like to fry them and then you put the black-eyed beans over rice and have the pork chops,” he continued.
Johnnye Walker and JoAnne Bailey say tradition is what you make of it. Whatever it may be, on New Year’s Eve or Day the focus is all about a fresh start.
“You have to start full. Full of life. Full of food. But mostly... full of love. That’s right. Full of love. Yes!”
What each traditional food means
Black-eyed peas: Black-eyed peas symbolize coins. Many serve their black-eyed peas with pork, which also comes with a pledge of prosperity in the New Year.
Pork: Pork is very traditional, especially in the south. It’s significant on the holiday because it’s believed to bring prosperity, progress, and luck.
Cornbread: Some say cornbread symbolizes gold. Either way, it’s a must on many a New Year’s menus.
Greens: Leafy greens represent green dollars. Greens are believed to bring about good fortune in the new year.
Grapes: One grape for each month of the year is customary to some to ring in the New Year.
Pomegranate seeds, fish, and noodles: They are other foods considered a must to some on New Year’s Day.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2019.