Ringing in the New Year right

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

In America, as well as in countries around the world New Year’s Day is celebrated and in a variety of ways, stemming from custom and tradition, basically stemming from the greeting of the new harvest seasons in ancient societies. Whether of fruit or grain, the harvest always determined the observance.

On the broad plains and wild forests of America, the Creek Indians celebrated the ripening of their corn in July or August.The Iroquois observed the new year in January, February or March with ceremonies in celebration of the expulsion of evil spirits by the wearing of disguises and masks.

Symbolically, New Year signifies a renewal of life, hence the spirit of celebration while discarding the old and worn out. The Dutch, in their New Amsterdam settlement at mid-17th century who originated the modern American New Year celebration, known in all the colonies for the free flowing of beer and wine.

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The midnight cacophony of horns and drums, bells and whistles were first used to drive away evil spirits. At the stroke of midnight, anything loud enough to send them fleeing was in order – and is today with the hour being tolled at all celebrations, and Auld Lang Syne played by the band.

The popular Rose Bowl Parade began in 1886 by the Valley Hunt Club, whose members decorated their carriages with flowers for an artistic celebration of the ripening of oranges in California. In 1902 the Rose Bowl football game became part of the celebration.

The spectacular Mummers Parade of Philadelphia originated in the Christmas celebrations of the Swedes and Englishmen who settled along the Delaware River. The English formed groups of men who presented costumed plays, going house to house reciting their parts. At the time it was said there were three main sections of the Mummers Parade:

the fancy dress, the clown and the string bands.

By the late l700s the principal custom of the day was visiting friends and exchanged gifts, to which was added the turkey shoot. However in 1773 the New York State Legislature outlawed the firing of guns and explosions, making the arrival of the New Year considerably quieter.

Visiting friends, holding Open House for all who cared to come, continued until early in the 20th century. Unfortunately, the custom was abused, with the distinction between privacy and socialbility ignored.People began to send invitations to special guests and another old custom fell.

In the Deep South, hospitality is very much a part of welcoming in the New Year. And no small part of such celebrations is the traditional food served to ensure good luck through the coming year. Some of these dishes are:


3 cups water

1 cup dried black-eyed peas

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrots

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 slice bacon, diced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup long grain rice

1/2 cup chicken broth

1-1/2 pounds mixed collar or mustard greens, kale or spinach, chopped

1 ham slice, broiled (1/2-1 pound)


Combine water, black-eyed peas, onions, carrots, celery, bacon and red pepper flakes in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in salt and simmer, covered 30 minutes or until tender.

Cook rice according to package directions and stir into the black-eyed pea mixture.

Make greens: bring broth to a boil in large saucepan. Add mixed geens, salt and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

Serve with Hopping John, ham and red pepper sauce.


3/4 cup cottage cheese

1 package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained

1 teaspoon salt

1 large onion chopped

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs beaten

8.5 ounce box Jiffy cornbread mix

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Combine cottage cheese, broccoli, salt, onion, butter and eggs. Stir in cornbread mix. Spread in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for40-45 minutes. Cut into squares.


4 cups self-rising flour

1 cup fine cracker meal

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 large eggs

4 cups whole milk

6-7 large green tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix and sift at least twice. In a separate bowl combine eggs and milk to make egg wash mixture. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Put tomatoes in egg wash, making sure they are coated well. Dredge tomatoes in dry batter coating well. Fry in frying pan in vegetable oil on medium high heat until they are golden brown. Remove from pan and let drain on a brown paper bag.