Thursday, December 23, 2021

Southerners eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year's Day: Do these foods symbolize prosperity or survival?

According to the Farmer's Almanac, Southerners traditionally eat black-eyed peas, cabbage, and pork on New Year's Day. 

The Almanac says these foods symbolize prosperity. Cabbage represents money, black-eyed peas suggest coins, and pork represents forward motion.

On New Year's Day, I will honor this Southern tradition by eating pork, black-eyed peas, and cabbage.  But I wonder if these foods represent something more fundamental than prosperity. 

Perhaps they symbolize survival.

If you are eating cabbage and black-eyed peas in January, that means you planted a fall garden and were able to harvest your crops.  

If you are eating pork in the winter, that means you slaughtered a hog in the fall and are getting some protein in your diet.

In my mind, the humble foods that Southerners eat on New Year's Day are a sign that we will survive until spring because we made prudent preparations in the fall; we planted winter crops and raised a pig.

This year, I planted a fall garden and began harvesting my produce in early December.  I discovered that broccoli, mustard greens, collards, and cabbage are easy to grow and thrive in cool weather.  

 So, I plan to plant a fall garden every year from now on. For me, my fall garden will be a reminder that I can't depend on the government, the national economy, or the global supply chain to keep me alive in my winter years. Ultimately, I alone am responsible for myself and my family.

(Nevertheless, I hope I am never obliged to own a pig. And I'm not crazy about chickens either.)

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