The Old-Fashioned New Year's Tradition Many Southerners May Have Forgotten

Kaitlyn Yarborough
·2-min read
Stocking Pantry
Stocking Pantry

Getty Images/Natalia Lavrenkova

Most of us are familiar with the typical traditions that go on in many Southern households at the commence of a New Year—ones like serving Hoppin’ John and collard greens to bring yourself and your home good fortune and luck to come. However, if you dig deeper, there are other lesser-known traditions—er, superstitions—that Southerners have largely forgotten about altogether and no longer practice. These are ones your grandmother or great-grandmother might remember from decades past.

One of these more elusive superstitions? Making sure that your pantry is well-stocked on the night before entering a New Year. Tradition goes that it was to make sure you’re set up to bring yourself and your home good fortune and bounty during the year to come, rather than an empty pantry that would symbolize a barren year.

First of all, we’re not surprised at all to learn that this superstitious practice was previously an old-fashioned trend in the South, just knowing how antsy our mothers get when they only have one stick of butter left in the refrigerator. Secondly, given the strong historical ties in the South to agriculture and farming, it makes a decent amount of sense that folks would be concerned about food-related bounty above many other things. Thirdly, a full pantry is something to be thankful for in any home and at any time, which makes this superstition feel somewhat more grounded than eating a spoonful of black-eyed peas. (Though, we do love to participate in that tradition nonetheless. You know, for good measure.)

So if you’re trying to bring yourself all the good luck and then some, just make sure to stock up on a few extra canned goods and sticks of butter. It’ll all get eaten eventually and you just might avoid a bout of bad fortune.

Slow-Cooker Collard Greens with Ham Hocks

Classic Southern collard greens get a slow-cooker makeover in this flavorful recipe.

What other New Year’s traditions will you be participating in this year? We’re game for anything to put 2020 decidedly in the dust with better fortune and health to come.