Why do Black people eat pig’s feet on New Year’s Day?

As I prepare to go to my mother-in-love’s house for dinner I was thinking about this question. Pig’s feet? Really? Yeah I know that sounds pretty gross but it’s a tradition that has lingered around for many decades. Let me just let you off the hook right now and say that she doesn’t serve pig’s feet. She substitutes that with ribs. There’s actually a menu for New Year’s Day that Southerners (African-American and Whites alike) eat in hopes that it will enrich our year and bring us luck and prosperity.  Each dish has a meaning to it (some of it dated back to the Civil War) and if you are not familiar with it and why we eat it, here’s the scoop.

Black eyed peas

black eyed peas

The legume of choice for NYD. We eat them for good luck. Most traditions say that you are to eat one for each day of the year. That’s a lot! there are a million different ways to prepare them but the Southerners that I know make them in something called hopping john. It’s a kinda sauce that you cook the peas in. I personally cannot stand black eyed peas and, outside of NYD, you will never see me eating them.




     collard greens                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Vegetables anyone? Yeah so we eat this for money as you should already know. The more green you eat, the better. Black eyed peas are supposed to represent coins but they don’t look like coins to me. Anyway, we eat just about any greens for money including collards, turnip, kale, rape, cabbage, etc. I happily eat these.

Pigs feet or pork


Yeah this is the not so appetizing part. Tradition says you eat the pigs feet because they are always rooting in the ground and pushing forward which is the same direction you should go in the new year. Sooooooo ummmmm….. I will confess that I have had it before when I was a small child (we didn’t question what we ate growing up. We just trusted our parents.) Nowadays I don’t eat pigs feet and would probably upchuck if it were on my plate. Instead we concentrate on eating pork which still comes from the same forward pushing animal but it symbolizes wealth and prosperity. As I said, I will be eating ribs today.




Cornbread symbolizes gold baby, GOLD!! Who couldn’t use some extra gold in their lives? Thank you Sir!!! May I have another? I love sweet cornbread.

Bonus non-food tradition

One more little Southern New Year’s Day tradition for you to chew on (all pun intended) is annual crossing the threshold. On New Year’s Day a male must be the first person to cross the threshold of your home. NO FEMALES can do it. It’s good luck so they say. This is really sexist, ya know? I mean c’mon now. Why are men considered good luck? Wasn’t it a man who created war? Wasn’t death introduced in the Bible by a man? Didn’t a man create that dreadful mammography machine that crushes women’s boobs? UGH!!! What the hell ever!!!

Happy New Year, dear readers!!! I hope all four of you (wink wink) enjoyed my little post today. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Why do Black people eat pig’s feet on New Year’s Day?

  1. I’m a little late. New Years is well behind us now. I thoroughly enjoyed the article on why we eat the foods that we do on New Years Day. I was unaware of some of the meanings of what we traditionally eat. This was fun and informative as I read it to my 9 year old granddaughter, Zoey. Pass it on. 🙂

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