Special foods, customs will help kick off 2013
Parties are a New Year’s Eve staple, of course, but many of us rely on a variety of other foods and customs to mark the passage of one year into the next.
When we asked readers of the Spirit of Jefferson to share some of their New Year’s favorites, we heard about main dishes made with black-eyed peas, cabbage and pork as well as traditions said to usher in good fortune, including burying cash to be dug up the following Jan. 1.
Marsha O’Roke says she’ll continue with her tradition of serving hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day. There are a multitude of variations to the dish, she said, but most include smoked sausage, tomatoes and black-eyed peas served over rice.
“It’s a Southern recipe that I learned about 15 years ago when I worked for a company in Charlotte, N.C.,” the Martinsburg resident explains. “It’s supposed to bring good luck.”
Black-eyed peas, which puff up when they’re cooked, have long been a symbol of prosperity. Other foods believed to bring good fortune to those who consume them on New Year’s Day include cabbage leaves (said to resemble paper money) as well as collard and mustard greens (both the color of money).
Because pigs move forward when they forage, meat from the animal is seen as symbolic of a chance to move ahead in life in the new year. Among the Jan. 1 staples: a whole roasted pig, ham hocks or sausage.
Debbie Vigh says her New Year’s tradition involves creating a “finger food heaven” for her family and friends, complete with pepperoni rolls, smoked sausage, cabbage soup and other menu items with “good luck” ingredients.
For Barbara Bradley, a long-cherished family tradition involved collecting small sums of cash from each person at the family’s New Year’s Eve dinner. After dinner, her son buried the bag, which would be dug up a year later on New Year’s Day.
“Each of us was to tend it carefully over the coming year and spend in on the following New Year’s Eve,” Bradley said. “The legend was that of prosperity and good fortune. Silly sounding, but that is what makes good legends – and prosperity was at hand: the good fortune was the memories we created.”
New Year’s Eve also can be an important time for personal reflection, says Kimberly Huneycutt, a wellness coach and nutritionist at Harpers Ferry Massage Therapy and Wellness Center.
“I go through every part of my life and figure out which area needs support,” said Huneycutt, whose office is at 1441 W. Washington St. “I look at my health – my weight, fitness – work, relationships, spirituality, stress relief, home and community and I then write out what I’m grateful for within each of those areas.”
Honeycutt says she next thinks about what is not working in each area of her life and determines what she’d like to change.
“Then I look at what a perfect day would look like,” she said. “I ask myself a series of questions – ‘How do I want to feel when I get ready for work?’ ‘How do I want to feel when I’m doing my exercise?’”
Once that list is complete, Huneycutt begins to look at what she’d like to change, starting with the area where her dissatisfaction is highest.
“This year I’ve slacked off on exercise because my work schedule has taken on a life of its own,” she said. “So I need to look at my work habits and what needs to change so I can exercise and feel fabulous.”
On Saturday, Honeycutt will lead a three-hour workshop beginning at 10:30 a.m. Those interested must pre-register at HarpersFerryMassageandWellness.com or by calling 304-535-1599. She’ll offer a more extensive, multiweek workshop in February.
“I do it in February because [then] people are often in the middle of the winter blues,” she said. “This is a great time to dig into your soul and retrieve your deepest longings and desires.”