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Discover Charleston

Charleston SC: New Year's Day, Black-Eyed Peas & Southern Traditions

     

Blog_new-years-day-traditions-southern-traditions-black-eyed-peas.jpgAny Southerner who celebrates deeply held traditions knows exactly what foods should be eaten on New Year's Day if they want the upcoming year to include good fortune and prosperity.  Black-eyed peas and greens (collard greens to be exact!) top the list, but a well-rounded New Year's day menu should probably include pork and cornbread too ... since they guarantee good luck throughout the year ahead. The legacy of this New Year's Day tradition has deep roots in southern heritage with a dash of southern folklore mixed in for good measure.  Here's a look at some of the local lore - and other popular Southern traditions you'll find around Charleston and throughout the south ...

Black-eyed Peas or beans symbolize coins or wealth. Choose traditional black-eyed peas, lentils or beans and season them with pork, ham or sausage. "Greens," like the color of money, is a Southern staple, but on New Year's day, they take on a whole new meaning.  Greens don’t mean just collards - turnip or mustard greens might work in a pinch!  In the South, there is a proper way to slow-cook collards and it involves cooking them in pork. Eat a whole mess on New Year’s Day, otherwise your luck may run out.  And cornbread? This Southern staple is especially important on when ringing in the new year. The color is considered to represent gold, and eating it means you will have extra spending money throughout the year.

Not just in the New Year, but if you find yourself living in Charleston or the South in general, there are traditions and commonalities you'll find in every southern home. Whether you are "Southern by birth" or simply enjoy adopting some of the local traditions that come with living in a certain part of the country, there are things that reflect your mother's, or your perhaps your grandmother's generation, that make them particularly endearing.  And, while there are just as many different kinds of homes in the South as there are Southerners, there are some things that are seemingly common to all of us.

A few of things that you are certain to find in almost any Southern home:

  • Wide, generous outdoor porch with "Haint Blue" painted ceilings
  • A pineapple door-knocker
  • Pitcher of sweet tea
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Casserole Dishes with your name taped to them - for the church or PTA potluck
  • A deviled egg plate
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Martha White or Gold Medal Flour
  • Grits
  • Mason jars
  • The “good silver” to only be used on holidays
  • At least one set of cocktail glasses  - for when company comes over
  • Monogrammed linens including tablecloths, napkins, sheets and towels
  • College football memorabilia - in Charleston that might USC, Clemson, C of C, or the Citadel
  • A nautical map of the waterways - if your Southern home happens to be coastal
  • Handmade quilt usually passed down in the family
  • The Bible

While we're certain you might find many of these things in any home, this is really just a lighthearted look at some of the more iconic and uniquely Southern things that have long been associated with the South's hot, humid climate, antebellum history, and slower pace of living. 

Note: Starting the New Year may mean keeping cherished traditions or incorporating new ones in your life - one may even be to find a new home to start new traditions. If you're ready to start your search for the perfect Charleston home today, start here ...

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