New Year’s tradition going strong

Published 5:53 pm Saturday, December 26, 2009

Everyone is invited to the soirée that will start the new year off with good luck. Kathryn Tucker Windham invites all peoples to her home at 2004 Royal Street on New Yea’s Day for black-eyed peas and cornbread, a feast intended to coat 2010 with prosperous luck. Windham, an author, storyteller, photographer and journalist, has a library of titles to her name over the course of her 91 years, making her an integral part of the Selma community.

“They can come over all day long,” Windham said. Guests are invited over between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. for her 36th New Year’s Day event. Come over between football games and naps, Windham said. She expects more than 100 people for this year’s party. “You see people you don’t normally see,” Windham said. “And the people can meet new friends here.”

Spending the entire day in the kitchen, Windham keeps three pots of beans simmering and hot cornbread muffins popping fresh out of the oven. She maintains all the cooking on her own, asking only for help to clean the dishes. Windham insists on using actual plates and real forks for dining at her party.

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“Excluding luck, black-eyed peas are good for us,” said Therthenia Lewis, Extension nutrition specialist. The peas offer calcium, folate, Vitamin A and are low in fat and cholesterol free. Lewis said.

The tradition of this menu for New Year’s Day started during the Civil War, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Union soldiers swept though the countryside, burning almost everything in their paths. Black-eyed peas were overlooked because they were a staple of a slave diet. Southerner slave-owners and slaves turned to the peas for sustenance. The legend of luck from these foods spread from this time period.