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Want good luck for 2007? Put some peas in your purse

Traditions say eating the right foods will bring good luck in new year

Traditions say eating the right foods will bring good luck in new year

December 27, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

For Audrey Ross, eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day won't be enough to ensure good luck for 2007.

"We always sprinkle a few black-eyed peas in the bottoms of our purses," said Ross, who lives in Martinsburg, W.Va. "You carry them around all year for good luck. Just two or three peas, uncooked."

Many cultures have their good luck food rituals for New Year's - whether it's black-eyed peas, a tradition with Southern roots, or eating a heaping dish of pork and sauerkraut, a tradition popular among many Pennsylvanians.

Putting peas at the base of your purse is a Ross family tradition.

"Black-eyed peas represent good luck, and collard greens represent money," said Deona Rogers, a cook at Porker's Barbecue in Martinsburg. Ross owns the soul food restaurant, which sells black-eyed peas and collard greens.

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In Ansted, W.Va., Ross' hometown, it's also considered good luck if a man is the first person to set foot in your house New Year's Day.

"The men in my neighborhood would go to everybody's house. They'd come in with hot cross buns," Ross said. "It's great because you know you'll have hot cross buns with your coffee New Year's morning."

John Flannery, who is of Irish decent, said pork and sauerkraut is eaten in his family.

"It's an Irish tradition in our family," said Flannery, 37 of Mercersburg, Pa. "It signifies luck for the new year."

Flannery owns Flannery's Tavern on the Square in Mercersburg. He said the restaurant will offer the dish the first week of January.

The restaurant is not open New Year's Day, Flannery said.

Pork and sauerkraut also is a common dish in German New Year's traditions, said Barbara Smith, owner of Mueller's German Market in Hagerstown.

The German market sells several food items that are considered good luck in German culture.

"We are all out of marzipan pigs. People did their shopping early this year," Smith said.

Marzipan pigs are confections made of sweet almond paste and shaped in the likeness of a pig, Smith said. They are eaten this time of year for good luck, Smith said.

The shop also sells chocolate pigs and chocolate chimney sweeps, another symbol of good luck for New Year's, Smith said.

Eating marinated herring with potatoes on New Year's Day is another German tradition. "It's supposed to help with hangovers," she said.

In Chinese tradition, fish and rice cakes are eaten for the Chinese New Year, said Rick Hsu, owner of R.C. Ching, a Hagerstown restaurant that specializes in Asian cuisine. The next Chinese year begins Sunday, Feb. 18.

According to tradition, a dragon monster would come through Chinese villages eating everything in sight, including people, Hsu said.

"If you wanted to ward off the monster, you had better feed it some food," Hsu said. Fireworks are also used to scare away the monster.

Hsu, who is from Taiwan, said Chinese rice cakes served during the Chinese New Year are nothing like the crunchy, disk-shaped biscuits sold in American stores.

Instead, the rice is pounded into a paste. The paste is formed into square cakes and pan-fried or steamed, Hsu said. Shanghai-style rice cakes are white in color and are served with meat and vegetables. Rice cakes from Taiwan and other regions of China are brown and sweet, due to brown sugar, Hsu said. They are usually served with desserts.

Wine sauce and bean paste often are used to flavor the cakes, Hsu said.

"We will be serving the Shanghai-style rice cake for the Chinese New Year," Hsu said. "Eat that, and it will bring you good luck for the whole year."

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