Pass the peas, please
New Year's inspires tradition, superstitions
Many revelers will drain a bottle on New Year’s Eve, but they might not know that to do so portends a prosperous and healthy year — according to superstition, anyway. Health care experts, law enforcement officials and your aching head may not agree.
It’s nearly impossible to trace the origin of the dozens of superstitions linked to the arrival of the new year.
New Year’s superstitions and traditions largely are based on folklore passed down through generations. In Moffat County, some superstitions and traditions have endured, and others have gone the way of witch trials.
“It seems to be human nature to assign meaning to coincidences and things which appear as portents and omens,” said Iona Opie, editor of “A Dictionary of Superstitions.”
Peas of mind
Some people wouldn’t dream of walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror.
Craig resident Lee Cotton said she wouldn’t dream of welcoming the new year without a bowl of black-eyed peas.
“That’s how I grew up,” she said. “We always did it for good luck.”
The tradition, popular in Southern states, is believed to bring luck and money throughout the new year.
“It’s always worked for me,” Cotton said.
She passes on the luck by sharing the tradition with friends.
Sheri Herod’s three sons went from temporary to full-time jobs in 2005. One got married, and another had his first child.
Cotton insists that the black-eyed peas Herod ate for the first time last New Year’s Day worked.
“It has been a good year,” Sheri Herod said. “There have been no major catastrophes.”
Setting the tone
The tradition may be popular in the South, but not here.
City Market Manager Kirk Mahaffie said the store hasn’t had a lot of luck selling black-eyed peas.
“They’re not flying out as much as we expected,” he said. “A lot of people here don’t follow that tradition.”
Mahaffie and his wife’s parent’s are Southern-bred. So he always greets the new year with a meal of ribs and a side of peas.
Some believe that the tone of the year is set by how it begins.
“I’ve always heard that if you’re healthy on New Year’s Day, you’ll be healthy all year long,” Craig resident Diana Cook said.
Beware of unibrows
Some strange superstitions aren’t very popular in Moffat County — or anywhere else for that matter. One such superstition has it that, if, on rising, a girl should look out of her bedroom window and see a man passing by on New Year’s Day, she’ll be married before the year ends.
In a superstition with roots tracing back to 1821, the first person to enter a home — ideally a tall, dark-haired man — should knock, even if he lives there. He should leave through a different door from which he entered. But be sure the handsome man doesn’t have crossed eyes, flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle, which is not so lucky.
It’s considered especially lucky if the first visitor arrives on a horse.
In 1866, doors were chained shut to prevent a woman from being the first to cross a threshold New Year’s Day, thereby dooming the occupants, according to the “Dictionary of Superstitions.”
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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