New Years in our household is a holiday filled with traditions based in superstition. I grew up a hybrid American blend of English, Irish, Scottish ancestry, and learned early on the "necessary" customs to perform every year, according to the old beliefs. We must have a first foot (the first person in your home after midnight) with dark hair, and it is better if it is a man- it is ok if the first foot is your own self, as long as you were not in the home at midnight. We must have a substantial amount of cash in our pockets at midnight, to ensure money in our pockets all year round; we should sweep the bad luck out of our house, by sweeping out the back door.
Billy's family is a mixed bag of genealogical beginnings as well, and his mother is southern by way of Hawaii. His family on New Years Day would always eat the standard southern good luck dinner of cornbread, collard greens, and black eyed-peas. According to the superstition, the yellow cornbread symbolizes gold, the collard greens dollar bills, and the black eyed peas represent coins. From what I have read, this modest meal is in remembrance of the Civil War, and how it affected so many people. Or, another explanation I have read is that by eating a humble meal at the beginning of the year, you will be eating richly at the end of the year.
This was a tradition we had previously never followed after we were married- mainly because the greens and the black eyed peas are generally made with ham hocks, and I am a vegetarian. This year, feeling like we needed all the luck we can get right now, we decided to make our own version of this Munyer family tradition.
Billy made collard greens, but instead of flavoring it with ham, he sauteed onions, garlic, butter, and olive oil together, then added a little vegetable broth. He let this simmer for about 30 minutes before adding the greens, brown sugar, and vinegar. He cooked this all together for another 20 minutes, then added a dash of liquid smoke as a finisher. This was honestly the first time I ever enjoyed greens, even counting the times I had eaten them as a non-vegetarian. The black eyed peas and cornbread we made as normal, and we slathered on the Cinnamon Honey Butter I had made the week before, which made the cornbread super delicious. Probably not the healthiest dinner we have ever eaten, but it definitely tasted fantastic. Marty joined us for dinner, so hopefully the good luck extends to him too.
It must be something in my blood that compels me to follow my own family mythologies; with the addition of the good luck dinner, we are adding another component. The way I see it, how can you go wrong starting the year off with a home cooked meal eaten with loved ones?
Here is a to a year filled with health, wealth and happiness to all. Slainte!