New Year's meal

Julia Dixon picks up cabbage for a New Year’s Day meal at Market Basket in Sulphur on Wednesday.

With a year that included a pandemic and two back-to-back hurricanes, there could be more people than usual saying hello to the new year today with the age-old tradition of dining on black-eyed peas and smothered cabbage or greens. According to folklore, dining on that combination will help to bring good fortune in the year ahead as peas symbolize coins while leafy greens represent dollar bills.

For some, it’s also the nostalgia factor and sweet memories of shared traditions with loved ones who are no longer here that nudges them toward preparing special meals for the first day of a brand new year.

Vickie Diesel said she was ready to put this past year behind her and find all the luck she can in the new year.

“I already brought my ham, fixing black eyed peas, and opening my door at midnight to let 2020 out and 2021 in!” Diesel said. “If there are any more traditions I need to know about, I will definitely try them!”

Some take it further than just the food or resolutions and put actual money into the picture in a bid to bring more riches into their lives in the coming year.

Robin Steinman is one of them and she said no matter what is going on in her world, she always cooks up ham, cabbage, and black eyed peas but adds a little twist.

“I fix my peas with a dime cooked in them for riches and good luck in the new year,” she said.

Jodee Batchelor Bucur said she thinks she knows exactly what will make 2021 a lot better than 2020 was.

“My Romanian in-laws have always told me that at midnight you should open your front and back doors to let the new air in and the old air out,” Bucur said.

But for a double dose of good luck, Bucur also plans to make cabbage rolls filled with ground pork and beef.

Wade Harper enjoys recalling the past while looking toward the future when he prepares his New Year’s Day meal.

“I will be cooking black eyed peas, steamed cabbage and cornbread,” Harper said. “I may even throw in an apple pie. Now, I will be doing all of my cooking in cast iron Dutch ovens and cooking over coals the way it was done years ago by our ancestors.”

Jacqueline Byes will cook a veritable feast for her table on New Year’s Day, with an eye toward a very happy 2021.

“We will be having mustard greens with smoked neck bones, black eyed peas with ham hocks, potato salad, baked macaroni and cheese, buttermilk pie, lemon Bundt cake, and corn bread,” she said

Clarence Smith will go the route of black eyed peas and cabbage but for his cabbage dish he likes to make what he calls “cabbage steaks.”

“Cut the cabbage in 3/4-inch slices and lay on a baking sheet,” he said. “Then add salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake.”

Not everyone is determined to follow the tradition of black eyed peas and cabbage or greens to bring in the new year, though.

Michael Creel said he did that last New Year’s Day and he said 2020 didn’t turn out so well. He’s trying something different and is hoping for a much better year in 2021.

“This year I am fixing hamburgers,” Creel quipped.

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