New Year’s Day Food Traditions

I’m not really a superstitious person but I always cook a good southern New Year’s day meal. Growing up in the south, we always ate pork, black eye peas, turnip greens and cornbread. I learned over the years that this plate of food, when eaten all together, represents financial prosperity, good luck and good health in the coming new year.

While I love all of the stories I’ve heard over the years about the greens representing paper money, the cornbread, gold, the pork, good health, etc… for me, the tradition matters more than the superstition. I feel like these southern comforts are even more important to me now that I’m raising my children in New England. I would guess we are the only family in Maine consuming this meal on January 1!

While my  mom always served a traditional plate of black eye peas and coca-cola pork chops with her turnip greens and cornbread, I’ve created our own family version of the meal including Hoppin’ John and pork tenderloin (and of course the greens and cornbread!)

There are various versions of Hoppin’ John out there but I prefer this simple version for our new years plate and I’m sharing the recipe I make every year for you!

Hoppin’ John*
serves 4-6

1 cup dry black eyed peas
1/2 cup rice (dry)
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
6 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
grated cheddar cheese for serving (optional – I prefer mine without)

Tomato hot pepper relish:
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 serrano pepper, seeded and chopped (be careful, wash your hands and don’t touch your face while handling this hot pepper!)
pinch of salt


Soak the black eyed peas overnight in water. In the morning, drain the water, add fresh water (about two inches above peas) and bring to a boil. Cover pot (leaving an inch open) and simmer for about one hour, until peas are tender. Drain and set peas aside.

Cook the rice in 1 1/2 cups water. When done, fluff with a fork and combine with the peas in a large bowl.

Top the peas and rice with the sliced green onions and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the relish, combine all ingredients. It shouldn’t be runny so you might need to add a little more or a little less mayonnaise to produce desired thick sauce consistency.

*Recipe courtesy of

Does your family have any New Year’s Day traditions? I want to hear about them!

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