Traditional foods to eat on New Year's Day in Virginia

Margaret Minnicks
Collard GreensPhoto byYouTube Screenshot

Many people believe that certain foods eaten on the first day of the new year will bring good luck throughout the rest of the year. They also believe that certain foods eaten could also bring about bad luck. These beliefs are traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation, especially in the South and throughout the state of Virginia.

On New Year’s Day, the traditional meal in Virginia consists mainly of collard greens, black-eyed peas, stewed tomatoes, and cornbread. Those foods are eaten for good luck and fortune for the rest of the year.

Eating collard greens

A New Year’s Day food tradition is to eat collard greens or other leafy greens because they represent the color of money and eating them is supposed to ensure you have a financially prosperous new year. Tradition holds that each bite of greens you eat is worth $1,000 in your wallet.

Eating pork

Another Southern tradition is eating pork, especially hog jowls, for prosperity in the upcoming year. Supposedly the fatter the pig you eat on January 1, the fatter your wallet will be for the next 12 months. Pork is eaten to symbolize progress. Pigs push forward, rooting in the ground before moving forward. The rich fat of pork represents wealth. That's why there is the saying, "living high on the hog."

Black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas resemble coins that swell when cooked which reminds the consumers of having lots of money throughout the year. Like collard greens, this dish is extremely popular among African-American communities in Virginia. People have been told that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day would bring good luck all year long. To enhance the dish, stewed tomatoes are added.


Fish, especially cod, is said to be lucky because they swim forward. Lobster shouldn't be eaten because it brings bad luck because it moves backward.


The golden color of cornbread is to guarantee that you will have gold in your pocket for the rest of the year.


Cakes and baked goods that are shaped in circles are commonly served from Christmas to New Year's Day around the world for prosperity.

Foods Not To Eat

  • Lobsters move backward and could therefore lead to setbacks.
  • Chickens scratch backward, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past.
  • Winged fowl could cause your good luck to fly away.

The above foods are traditional ones to eat and not to eat in the state of Virginia in the African-American communities. There might be specific foods that are considered to be lucky or unlucky to eat in other communities, states, and regions among other groups of people.

Happy New Year to you no matter what you eat on January 1, 2023.

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I love pop culture, movies, television, and entertainment. I keep up to date on the latest movies and television shows. I like sharing news about them. I also like sharing information about different foods and their health benefits. I have been a high school teacher and a college professor for over 50 years and an online writer for over 30 years. I have three degrees: BA in English and Literature, MA in Christian Education, and MDiv in Theology. Get to know me through my writing.

Richmond, VA

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