A Traditional Southern New Year's Day Dinner

Start the New Year With These Lucky Southern Food Traditions

Mustard Greens With Ham
Mustard Greens With Ham. Photo: Diana Rattray

This is the perfect New Year's Day Dinner menu, with skillet cornbread, easily seasoned mustard greens, spicy black-eyed peas, hot cooked rice, and a fabulous peach upside-down cake.

According to popular folklore, these dishes, eaten on New Year's Day, are designed to bring good luck throughout the year.

Peas or Beans symbolize coins. Choose traditional black-eyed peas, or make lentils or a bean dish, seasoned with pork, ham, or sausage.

Greens resemble money, specifically folding money. Use boiled cabbage or sauerkraut, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, or other green, leafy vegetables.

Pork is considered a sign of prosperity in some cultures because pigs root forward. This is probably the reason many Southern New Year's Day dishes contain pork or ham.

Cornbread might symbolize gold, and besides, it is essential with black-eyed peas and greens.

In other cultures, fish, grapes, and ring-shaped cakes or doughnuts or cakes with special treats inside symbolize luck.

What NOT to Eat on New Year's Day

Some believe that lobster could cause bad luck in the coming year because it moves in a backward direction and could mean setbacks in the year ahead. For the same reason, chickens could be bad luck. They scratch backward, plus they are winged so your luck could fly away. 

New Year's Day Menu Suggestions

Spicy Southern Black-Eyed Peas - Salt pork, hog jowl, or ham hocks flavor this tasty dish of black-eyed peas.


Hot Cooked Rice - Rice is delicious with black-eyed peas, but not an essential element.

Mustard Greens With Ham - Ham seasons these greens perfectly.

Classic Southern Cornbread - Add corn kernels to the cornbread for "gold coins."

Down Home Fresh Peach Cobbler - This Southern favorite will finish the meal nicely.

You Might Also Like

Black-Eyed Peas with Pork

Caribbean-Style Black-Eyed Peas

Hamburger Soup With Black-Eyed Peas and Kale

Buttery Cornbread with Corn Kernels

Turnip Greens With Bacon

How to Freeze Fresh Blanched or Fully Cooked Black-Eyed Peas