Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Traditions And Superstitions (Working On My Mojo)


They say that there’s a connection between what we do on January 1 that sets a pattern for the remainder of the New Year.
It’s believed that if one fails to plaster a big ‘ol wet one on a significant other at the stroke of midnight we are destined for a year of coldness.  I have to work on New Year’s Eve so unless giving my little furkid, Sophie the dog, a peck on her head when I get home counts, I’m doomed.
Speaking of work, according to tradition it is good luck to be at work on the first day of the New Year.  At least I’ve got that covered.
One superstition I’ve heard of is that you shouldn’t allow the New Year to arrive with the cupboards bare.  Check.  I went to the grocery store today and bought my absolute most favorite ice cream; four pints of Talenti® gelato.  The freezer now has one pint each of Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Belgian Milk Chocolate, Caramel Cookie Crunch and Black Cherry Amareno.  I bought other stuff too, but none as important as the gelato.  Supposedly topping off ones groceries guarantees prosperity.
I’m screwed if this next superstition has any merit.  It is said that the household should not be in debt as the New Year arrives.  Hospital bills for all the tests that were run in November are pouring in.  Scratch that off the list of stuff to do to bring good luck for 2014.
Nothing is to be taken out of the house on the first not even garbage.  Check.  The garbage man comes on Tuesdays so that’s all good.
Now this “first footer” thing is tricky.  The first person to enter your home after the stroke of midnight supposedly will influence the year you’re about to have.  The recommendation ideally is for the “first footer” is to be tall, dark and handsome.  Damn.  That ain’t hapnin’.
I have an out apparently.  “One who lives alone might place a lucky item or two in a basket that has a string tied to it, then set the basket just outside the front door before midnight.  After midnight, the lone celebrant (that’s me) hauls in the catch, being careful to bring the item across the door jamb by pulling the string rather than by reaching out to retrieve it and thus breaking the plane of the threshold.”
As long as this occurs at midnight when the neighbors presumably will be in bed and will not witness this stupid maneuver I guess I can give this one a try.  Hey, it’s for good luck.
Being from the South, it is traditional to dine on collard greens, black-eyed peas, ham hocks and cornbread.  The notion is the collard greens represent folding money.  The black-eyed peas represent loose change.  The ham hocks are a pork product—this is important—one should not eat chicken or turkey on New Year’s Day because poultry scratches backwards, a cow stands still, but a pig roots forward.  Eating poultry fates the diner to scratch in the dirt all year for their dinner.
You’re not supposed to do laundry or even do dishes.  Do not pay loans or lend money.  Avoid breaking things.  Avoid crying on the first day.  Hey, if tall, dark and handsome is not my “first footer” I can’t guarantee the not being a crybaby thing.
One must make as much noise as possible at midnight.  This would be more likely if my “first-footer” would do me a favor and show up.  Cue the Marvin Gaye music.
I’m soaking the black-eyed peas as I write this.  I’ve already cleaned and chopped up the collard greens.  I’m steaming them now as well.  After that, I’ll drain them, rinse them and place them in a crock pot to slow cook all day tomorrow while I’m at work.  Then, I’m going to bake an iron skillet of buttermilk cornbread.
If you don’t hail from the South this cuisine may seem strange to you but it’s rooted deeply in folklore dating back to The War Against Northern Aggressions, Mr. Lincoln’s War, The War Between The States or the less inflammatory The Great Unpleasantness.
The “bluebellies” pillaged the land leaving behind only corn, black-eyed peas and greens as animal fodder.  These were the humble foods that enabled Southerners to survive.
So, as we flip open a brand new calendar with twelve pristine months, we get a chance to shrug off a year’s worth of worries and mistakes and get a fresh chance to start over.
What could be better?  Hellooooooo tall, dark and handsome.

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