On New Year’s Day, you’ll find people throughout the South eating greens, black-eyed peas, pork and cornbread. Serving up these hearty foods on January 1 has been a generations-long tradition for many a southern native, but do you know why we eat them or where to find them in Georgia if you don’t want to cook another holiday meal?
My favorite story about black-eyed peas goes all the way back to the Civil War. The tale goes that Union soldiers ate up all the Southern crops except for black-eyed peas. The hearty legumes provided much-needed sustenance for the survivors during Reconstruction thus, they became a symbol of luck. Some folks even cook a dime with them and whoever gets the dime is said to have extra good luck that year.
Greens are said to symbolize money or prosperity and true Southerners say you gotta eat a lot! Some even say you have to keep eating them all day, but I’ll leave that up to you! Any green will do, but the most common choices are collard, turnip or mustard greens.
Golden cornbread is often added to the Southern New Year’s meal. As a well-known phrase goes, “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.” But I say you just can’t have black-eyed peas and greens without cornbread.
Beyond just being so dang yummy, pork is said to be a symbol of prosperity because pigs root forward. In contrast, eating chicken or turkey on New Year’s Day is considered bad luck because they scratch backward.
Where to Eat in Georgia
These four dishes, eaten on New Year’s Day, are designed to bring you and you loved ones prosperity throughout the year. So where do you go if you want to guarantee good luck in 2016? Below are nine places around Georgia that are open and ready to serve up luck and prosperity on January 1, 2016.
Historic Heartland– Social Circle, GA
No one is allowed to leave The Blue Willow Inn hungry after feasting on a variety of Southern salads, meats, vegetables, breads, and desserts. Their New Year’s buffet will have all the traditional fixin’s along with prime rib, seafood, and all the Southern desserts you know and love.
Atlanta Metro– Atlanta, GA
Mary Mac’s boasts many awards and accolades, but most recently the 70-year-old establishment was named the Best Atlanta Soul Food Restaurant by our very own Family Explorer, Lesli Peterson. They fill up fast on holidays so come early to enjoy all the traditional New Year’s Day dishes.
Northeast Georgia Mountains– Dahlonega, GA
The AJC once called the food at The Smith House “revelatory.” You can have your own revelation on New Year’s Day with the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat, family style dining experience starting at 3:30pm. They are located just one block from Dahlonega’s historic downtown square.
The Coast– St. Simons Island, GA
We named Southern Soul BBQ one of the best barbecue joints in the state, and for very good reasons. The popular restaurant offers plenty of ‘que along with the traditional collard greens, Hoppin’ John, and cornbread. Pick up a sampler of hot sauces to take home before taking a walk on the nearby beach to burn off all those delicious calories.
Presidential Pathways– Pine Mountain, GA
Tucked inside Callaway Gardens, the picture windows at The Country Kitchen reveal a breathtaking ridge top view that pairs perfectly with the down-home Southern dinner served up on New Year’s Day. While you’re there keep the holiday spirit going and experience the famous Fantasy of Lights display, which goes through January 2.
Plantation Trace– Valdosta, GA
The Smok’n Pig is a place steeped in southern tradition and old time Bar-B-Q. They offer freshly prepared country cookin’ just like grandpa used to do back in the day. So relax, sit back and enjoy a New Year’s Day barbecue feast with the entire family.
Classic South– Evans, GA
This welcoming cafeteria-style restaurant offers up all the traditional Southern meats and side you can think of, including fresh, fried-to-order fish. As one Yelp reviewer put it, “The staff is friendly, the portions are big, and the ribs were fantastically tender and flavorful. Their collard greens are pretty much the best you can get anywhere.”
Historic High Country– Rome, GA
The Partridge Restaurant has been a major part of Rome’s downtown experience since 1933. Order up a family-style meal by circling your choices of classic southern dishes, then wait in anticipation with a tall glass of refreshing sweet tea. Don’t miss the cornbread, which comes to the table in its own cast-iron skillet.
Magnolia Midlands– Dublin, GA
Take a break from the kitchen and treat your family to a true Southern buffet restaurant. Ole Times Country Buffet’s all-you-can-eat offerings will leave even the pickiest eater in your family satisfied on New Year’s Day. Look for the unique pig decorations scattered throughout the restaurant.