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Luck and riches: Traditional New Years feast requires a few Southern essentials
Black-eyed peas and collard green are a staple in the South for New Year's Day. - photo by Michelle Boaen Jameson

No matter what country you choose to dine in, more than likely locals have some form of New Year's Day food tradition.

In some countries pomegrantes — which represent fertility and abundance — are eaten for good luck, while in other places fish are said to represent moving forward with the new year, while leaving last year's issues in the past.

Residents in some Asian countries say that eating long noodles on New Year's Day brings good luck for the year, if you can eat them without the noodle breaking.

In the U.S., there are many people who wouldn't dream of starting their New Year without a serving of peas and leafy greens, which are supposed to bring the promise of abundant riches in the New Year.

If you happen to leave in the South, then more than likely, that perfect combination is made up of collard greens and black-eyed peas.

"We usually don't serve collard greens much, except on New Year's Day and sometimes on Thanksgiving," said Bobby Peck, general manager of The Longstreet Cafe on Riverside Terrace in Gainesville.

Customer demand spurred the cafe, which has another location on Pearl Nix Parkway in Gainesville, to add collard greens to the New Year's selection in 2008.

"We ran out that first year that we did it, but last year we were fine," Peck said.

"Hopefully, we won't run out this year either."

Last year alone, the restaurants went through 300 pounds of collard greens and 100 pounds of black-eyed peas collectively.

Although not everyone is thrilled to partake in the southern tradition, Peck says he happily starts his new year with the traditional foods.

"I grew up in the south and they say if you eat collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day you'll have plenty of dollars and cents throughout the year," Peck said.

"So why wouldn't you want that? Plus, they taste pretty good too."



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