A Traditional Southern New Year’s Eve Dinner

By Cindy Adams

Many cultures and countries have particular “lucky” foods, and us Florida Southerners are no exception. Greens, pork, and cornbread, as well as black-eyed peas are some of the typical symbolic foods served on New Year’s Day. When planning your menu, add these Southern foods that some say bring good luck and avoid those that may do just the opposite in the new year. Here’s to eating your way into 2023!

What to Eat on New Year’s Day

According to popular folklore, if these foods are eaten on New Year’s Day, you’re guaranteed good luck throughout the year. Peas and beans symbolize coins or wealth. Choose traditional black-eyed peas, lentils, or beans to make a dish seasoned with pork, ham, or sausage.

Greens resemble money, specifically folding money. Make dishes using green, leafy vegetables to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Southern favorites include mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens or boiled cabbage.

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 because corn kernels represent coins. Yet, cornbread is also essential with black-eyed peas and greens, so you can triple your luck with these natural complements.

In other cultures, fish, grapes, and ring-shaped cakes or doughnuts symbolize luck. Cakes with special treats inside do as well, so something like a surprise loaf cake is perfect.

New Year’s Day Menu Suggestions

The perfect New Year’s Day menu includes easily seasoned mustard greens, spicy black-eyed peas (Hoppin’ John), hot cooked rice, skillet cornbread and a old fashioned carrot cake. Enjoy my favorite recipes!

Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

This cornbread recipe is for the classic buttermilk cornbread you’ll find throughout the South and cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet. There’s generally no sugar added to Southern cornbread, which makes it an ideal side dish for a savory meal. Serve it fresh from the oven.


1/4 cup melted shortening, divided
2 cups white or yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Butter, for serving, optional


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Position the rack in the center of the oven.

Brush about 1 tablespoon of melted shortening in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put the skillet in the oven.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of melted shortening.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until blended. Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven and set it on a metal rack. Pour the batter into the sizzling shortening in the hot skillet.

Return the skillet to the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F, and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot with a pat of butter, if desired.