I grew up with a list of New Year’s Day superstitions, otherwise known as the Rules. My indoctrination began at a tender age, and New Year’s Day just doesn’t feel right if I don’t follow all of the rules about the day. Most of these, if not all of them, come from my maternal grandmother, a woman raised in the South. So many of these superstitions are common in the South. In the North and West, however, they’ll elicit some pretty strange looks from your friends.
I spoke about this in a previous post. First, the main course. Eat nothing that scratches backwards. This means no poultry as they scratch backwards at the feed before eating it. Lamb is ok. As is ham or beef. But no poultry. I cannot eat chicken or turkey on New Year’s Day without feeling like I’m committing some huge mortal sin.
Next, side dishes. You need to eat your black-eyed peas and greens. The black-eyed peas are for sense/cents. Not sure if it’s for common sense or money, but I’ll take either in abundance thank you very much. The greens are for dollars (or any money). This is any kind of green vegetable. Growing up it was green beans (probably because they were my sister’s favorite veggie), but any greens will work. Just eat lots of it so you get lots of money. As a child I thought this was made up by my mother to get my sister and I to eat more vegetables than we would normally have to. We were good little girls, we always did eat our veggies, but “lots” was pushing it. However, the promise of lots of money during the coming year in exchange for suffering through a big pile of greens is convincing enough for any child. Note: I am still waiting for the big financial return on all those greens I’ve eaten over the years. Yet, I still eat a big pile of greens every damn year.
To ensure we ate a proper meal on New Year’s Day, my grandmother would mail us a can of green beans, a can of black-eyed peas, and a ham (not the canned variety, but rather the preserved and shrink-wrapped kind). Yes, you read that right, mail us our meal. That’s some pretty strong rule enforcement. I visited Grandmother for Christmas this year, and she sent me home with ham and a can of black-eyed peas. The only reason I didn’t get a can of green beans as well is because I already have a can in my pantry (no lie, and she made me swear to it). She sent me home with them. Just in case I didn’t have time to get to the store between Friday and Sunday night to get me some. And you wonder why I’m still following the rules to this day. I’m scared not to.
Doing laundry on New Year’s Day means that someone will be “washed” out of your life during the coming year, otherwise known as a death in the family. This can be summarized for your friends as: laundry = death.
Don’t do anything the first day of the year you don’t want to do the rest of the year. In other words, do the things you want to do. Sleep late. Call your loved ones and friends or better yet, go visit. Catch up on correspondence. Relax. Watch some tv or movies. Whatever you find enjoyable and wouldn’t mind being able to do for the rest of the year. And whatever you do, don’t spend it on a plane or traveling if at all possible. I flew one year, and spent a large chunk of my time in airports and on planes during the next 365 days. No joke. I also recommend NOT being hungover/sick unless you enjoy that feeling.
Don’t pay bills on New Year’s Day as this signifies money going out and none coming in. Never a good thing.
Turning a stool/chair on one leg = bad luck. Don’t ask me about this one. I don’t know. All I can tell you is that when rotating a chair or stool on New Year’s Day, I always, always, pick it up off the floor completely before turning it. Better safe than sorry.
So consider yourself warned and indoctrinated. I can’t make you follow the superstitions, all I can do is tell you about them and pray for your soul if you don’t follow the New Year’s Day Rules.