New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day customs have evolved

2012-12-26T15:49:00Z New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day customs have evolvedBy: MARIE HOYER The Prairie Star
December 26, 2012 3:49 pm  • 

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot and old lang syne?” These are the first two sentences to a traditional song sung on New Year Eve after the stroke of midnight in English speaking countries.

New Year’s Day was not always celebrated on Jan. 1. Two other dates had been Nov. 1 or March 25.

The “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics were not written as a New Year’s song, but as a poem by Scotland’s Robert Burns. Later the poem was set to the music of an old Scottish folk song. Emigrants brought the song and the custom to the United States.

This and other traditions have formed around New Year’s Eve. Many of them were superstitious and have been dropped. A few of them were the first person to enter your house after midnight would give an indication of the type of luck you would have. Another was everything that happened to you, or how you felt, on New Year’s Day would be an indication of how your fortune would be in the coming year. Many of these practices and customs sprang from pagan influences that are not considered any more.

Two ancient symbols of the New Year were an image of Father Time pictured as an elderly man with a small child beside him. The other is of Janus, the Roman god of doorways and new beginnings. He is pictured with two faces. One face looking back to the past and the other to the future ahead.

For many people New Year’s Eve is a time for partying and feasting. New Year’s Eve parties are popular either in public places or homes. At 12 o’clock midnight glasses are raised with toasts. Rattles and other noisemakers can accompany the toast – the superstition with these was that the loud noises were thought to chase away evil spirits.

Although one wants to have a good time partying, there are a few things to keep in mind. Much alcohol may be consumed even in mixed drinks. It may help to eat something ahead of time to help soak up the liquids in the stomach. Having non-alcoholic drinks that may be available such as fruit juices, punches, soft drinks, or even coffee will help. One should also have a designated driver who will not be drinking alcohol to take one home. Some communities will also provide rides home to those whose alcohol level is too high to be driving. Remember it is better to give in than to be sorry in front of a judge!

A tradition, which became established through tragedy, is the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. During the time of the Civil War black-eyed peas were not considered as people food, but as only fit for animals. As in a war destruction of crops, confiscation of property, animals and foodstuffs was common. As Union troops swept through Confederate lands all but black-eyed peas and/or salt pork was taken, leaving people without food. They began eating the peas and salt pork, which enabled them to survive the winter.

Slaves were also given black-eyed peas and in January of 1863 they became a celebrity meal when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

The humble pea became a symbol of good luck eaten on New Year’s Day and part of America’s traditional food. Some other foods that are traditional with them are collard greens and pork.

Something to think about: “As 2013 will unfold, for some it will be a good year, for others not so good, yet for all of us we must keep in mind that God is still in control and each day will bring blessings, large or small, to everyone. Look for them! Happy New Year!” Marie H



1 lb. (or 2 cups) dried black-eyed peas

8 cups water

1 medium ham hock

One 16-oz. can chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 Tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon basil

1 bay leaf

1 cup long grain rice

Rinse the peas. In a kettle or Dutch oven, combine the peas and water; let stand overnight. Do not drain. Add the ham hock, tomatoes, onion, celery, salt, chili powder, basil and bay leaf. Cover and simmer until the peas are tender, about 1-1/4 hours. Lift out the ham hock; remove meat from the bone and dice. Return the meat to the pea mixture with the rice. Cover and cook 20 minutes more or until the rice is tender. Add more water, if desired. Remove bay leaf. Serve. H



1 small head cabbage


1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

1 cup cheese

2 cups cracker crumbs

Cook cabbage with butter until tender. Combine other ingredients in a blender. Combine with the cracker crumbs. Add to the drained cabbage. Place in casserole and bake in a 350 F. oven 20-30 minutes. H



1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/8 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup (or a little more) milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup corn meal

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Combine and beat the eggs, milk and oil. Add flour mixture and the cornmeal. Mix lightly, but do not over beat. Pour into a well-greased, heated 8x8" pan. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until done. H

Copyright 2014 The Prairie Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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