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!

Old Fashioned Carrot Cake

What dessert is good luck on New Year’s Day?

Cake! It is believed that eating a round-shaped dessert or a ring- shaped cake will bring a full circle of luck for that following year. In other traditions, some would even bake a coin into the cake, which is believed to bring an extra serving of good luck to the one who finds it!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups oil (I use canola)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
2  cups carrots, grated (Remove ends and scrape carrots before grating)
1 cup nuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups confectionery sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract


In a large mixing bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together with a wire whisk. In a small bowl cream oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla with a mixer.

Add creamed mixture to dry ingredients and mix well with mixer. Add carrots and keep on mixing. If using nuts or raisins fold them in with a spoon. Spray 2 round cakes pans or a 9 x 13 pan and add batter. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting Instructions

Beat butter and cream cheese with vanilla. Add powdered sugar mix together until smooth and of spreading consistency.