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!

Mustard Greens with Ham

Ham seasons mustard greens perfectly. Serve them with pepper sauce or homemade pepper vinegar. These are delicious with fresh baked cornbread and pepper sauce or vinegar. Buy well-cleaned greens or wash them in at least three changes of cold water to get rid of all the grit.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 to 3 ham shanks, or a meaty ham bone, or ham hocks
1  1/2 cups chopped onion
2  cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds mustard greens, tough stems removed, coarsely chopped
1  1/2 cups chicken broth
2  teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Pepper vinegar sauce, to taste, optional
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper


In a large pot heat oil over medium heat.

Add the onions, ham shanks or ham bone; cook, stirring, until onions are wilted.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add the mustard greens, a few handfuls at a time, adding more as the first batch wilts.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add Worcestershire sauce and a dash of hot pepper sauce. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Cover and simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes longer.