Heritage

New Year Traditions

New Years has its traditions and customs just like all the other holidays. A few of the most well known being the traditional kiss at midnight, the big ball drop (in my neck of the woods it’s the Possum) and the hard to achieve New Years Resolutions folks make.

New years eve watch service in appalachia

Churches often ring in the New Year by praying for the coming year to be all it should be-it’s called a Watch Service. I come from a fierce fire and brimstone upbringing-growing up I always thought the Watch Services were to make sure the redeemed were gathered together just in case the New Year didn’t come after all.

This year I’ve been introduced to 2 new traditions-ones I’ve never heard of before.

First Footer New Years Tradition in Appalachia

The first came by way of Gary Carden-of Blow The Tannery Whistle fame. It’s an old Appalachian tradition called the First Footer. If the first person to set foot in your house after the New Year is a tall dark haired man-you’re sure to have good luck for the coming year.

fox grapes by creek

The second came from Noble Pig. When midnight arrives on New Years Eve-you quickly eat a dozen grapes. Each sweet grape represents a good month in the coming year-each sour grape signals a not so good month.

A New Years day tradition in the south is to eat black eyed peas, ham hocks, and cabbage to insure the coming year be a wealthy one. Our family has never taken part in this custom-but the other day Granny allowed we should start-cause she had figured out this is probably why we’ve always been poor.

To be honest-most of the time when the clock strikes midnight-I’ve already been asleep for several hours. A night owl I am not. But this year I will be awake-by force of Chitter and Chatter. This year when the New Year rings in I’ll be…

Contra Dancing. I hope the coming year is a happy one for you-and please leave me a comment and let me know what you do to ring in the New Year.

Tipper

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Louise
    January 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    More often than not, I’m asleep. When my girls get older,will I be forced to stay up, too? I think I’m too old!
    I’m having some connection problems in my hotel and couldn’t comment on your word post. I only had heard of 4 of the words. Can’t remember which ones now, but that was a pretty low number.

  • Reply
    Paula
    January 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

    This year we sat around my sister’s kitchen table and played cards, laughing and hooting until that old ball dropped.
    Happy New Year to the whole Blind Pig family!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    January 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I got married a second time and it was on a New Years eve, thirty-one years back. The anniversary is easy to remember but I am always drawn to some other memories full of their own poignancy.
    Two memories anyway. They happened on the same day. 1953. New Years Eve.
    Hank Williams died.
    Like when I heard of John Kennedy’s death, I remember just what I was doing and where I was standing when I heard the news about Hank Williams.
    Dad blew up his well that night, too.
    We had to carry water in lard buckets every day from Old Man Rogers’ well down over the bank. We had no running water, used an outhouse, carried all our water up the hill, even on wash day.
    Dad’s pride had been hurt many times that year, but Mr. Rogers’ overbearing, solicitous attitude was hard on Dad.
    He cut a forked branch out of the apple tree out back, just a kind of a small, forked twig that would bend easy when it passed over water.
    He held that divining branch in the curled way he’d been shown and walked all over our hillside of a front yard until that branch struck straight down and there he dug a well.
    He dug and dug all through the Fall of ’53 … he had two jobs of work and could only dig on the well a while each evening.
    In December he was tired. He got down about six or seven feet deep and hit the bedrocks and stoney outcroppings of the hillside. There was enough water to keep filling up his hole, and he’d have to bale it out, but it was just the groundwater running down the hill in the bedrock. It wasn’t good water.
    He hand-chiseled a hole about an inch or two wide trying to get through the rock but the rock was solid to China.
    He was wore out. He got some dynamite and was going to set it off in that drilled hole but as Winter poured on its cold, Dad finally gave up any hope of reaching good water.
    New Year’s Eve, he rigged the dynamite into the drilled hole, wired a blasting fuse to it, connected all that to an electric cord and ran it back the thirty some yards to a plug-in on our front porch.
    He had lost a lot that year, in pride, in heartaches … in backaches. But he was about to be in control and make a statement about it all, with one thrust of that extension cord plug into the socket.
    At midnight, he plugged in the cord and an explosion like an A-Bomb test roared its percussion up and down the valley and off the hillsides and lights went on all up and down the road and people stuck ther heads out the door.
    Dad grinned and went to bed.
    Next day, neighborhood kids asked me if I heard the commotion last night.
    All I knew was, Hank Williams died last night.

  • Reply
    Malcolm in Thailand
    January 3, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Hello Tipper , Happy new year from Thailand , I am a distance cousins of yours on Aunt Hazel’s side by marriage. She called me in Thailand and gave me the web site , I have enjoyed it a lot, and shared with my friends . Here in Thailand ,as in the USA the local folks will have a big outdoor concert with lots of music,dancing,food,and other things to include of course a big fireworks display. Thanks for the memories. Malcolm

  • Reply
    Becky
    January 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Congratulations, Toni!!!
    Usually, we have a bonfire and just hang out and laugh together, here at home.
    This year was too windy.
    We just watched movies and stayed in the warm house.

  • Reply
    warren
    January 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Heehaw for contra dancing! We always eat cabbage but I have to report that it has done nothing to enhance our bottom line.

  • Reply
    Glenda
    January 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Tipper, best wishes for a grand new year. Your blog has brought me such joy this past year, and knowing you personally is a blessing.
    We do the traditional greens, black-eyed peas and instead of hog jowl which is the original southern essential, we have a small pork loin. My husband said today’s meal was the best he has ever eaten. Everything came out just right for a change. I made sour cream cornbread muffins and he loved them.
    I can’t imagine a New Year’s day without this tradition my mother instilled in me.
    Happy New Year to all.

  • Reply
    Mary
    January 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Happy New Year, Tipper! Hope you made it to midnight! Tell your granny not to feel too bad about the black eyed peas. We eat them every year and we’re still poor, LOL!
    I had heard the one about the dark haired stranger, but not about the grapes!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    January 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I watched the ball drop on TV as I am a night owl. I have only heard of the tradition of a man crossing the threshold of your home first. I wait every year to hear someone from the building leave and look out the window to make sure it’s a man before I venture out.
    Guess I’ll have to get me some grapes next year and check out the sweet/sour tradition. We don’t have cabbage on New Year’s, but we do eat a piece of pickled herring for good luck. Nasty little fish when it’s pickled by the way. 🙂
    Wishing you and the family a safe, healthy and very prosperous New Year! Love to all! xxoo

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    January 2, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Happy New Year Tipper! I spent the night at home watching movies and enjoying good company 🙂

  • Reply
    Brenda S
    January 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Happy New Year Tipper and family!
    My hubby was working out of town, so just me and my lil wiener doggies. Yesterday was my birthday, received lots of phone calls since all my family live out of state. I’ll be eating blackeyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and ham today. I looked for some fresh side pork(tradition), but couldn’t find it. Thank you for my daily smiles this past year.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Black eyed peas, collard greens and hogs jowl. The greens are for prosperity and I don’t know what the peas represent. I suppose the hog jowl represents living “high on the hog”.
    As I was growing up we mainly had the black eyed peas. I added the collards and jowl later.
    Like you Tipper, I am usually long asleep by midnight, and last night was no exception.
    I don’t do New Years Resolutions. What I try to do (but it doesn’t happen every year) is open my self to a word or a phrase to think about and meditate on through the year. This year my word is “turn”. Turn means to me to turn away from old thoughts and processes and turn to new ways of looking at things in my world.
    I guess this is my personal New Years Tradition.
    Wishing us all a great and grand new year!

  • Reply
    Joan J
    January 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Happy, happy New Year, Tipper, to you and your wonderful family. I hope all your grapes were sweet ones. We did not stay up ’til midnight last night, but greeted each other this morning with a “Happy New Year”. Today is the taking down of the Christmas Tree, and a roast pork and cabbage dinner. It’s a new start, a new beginning! I always love the first day of the new year — it’s so full of hope of what’s to come!

  • Reply
    Jan
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    After a wonderful dinner with friends I am ready to call it a night. I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009!

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Tomorrow friends are coming over for black eyed peas and cornbread, dips and snacks and some ham left over from Christmas. My Bro will get talked into whipping up his Rotel cheese dip, we have some little smokies left from Christmas also for snackin’. I just finished making Million Dollar Sugar Cookies. I posted the start of the process earlier in the day, then will post the “rest of the story” later or in the morning if I get too tired and post the recipe. So stay tuned.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Our New Year’s Eve tradition is to sit around at home, watch movies, and eat the last of the Christmas goodies. On New Year’s Day we eat black-eyed peas and cornbread and run all over town taking down Christmas decorations!

  • Reply
    Janet
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Hi Tipper, Happy New Year.
    We will watch the New Year come in tonight at home and probably drink some Welch’s sparkling grape juice. Tomorrow my husband will cook a huge pot of cabbage to bring prosperity to us in the new year.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    We’re two old stick in the muds….just stayin’ home. I’ve got a bunch of books (caught a bookstore going out of business and everything was half off… so I treated myself to some paperback mysteries), so I’m reading tonight.
    Tomorrrow we will probably go to Cracker Barrel for a good country dinner/supper. Love to go to CB and esp. if we can snag a table in front of the fire (and we’ve been known to attempt to time our arrival at CB when it is less crowded so that we can actually sit in front of the fire… it’s the small things in life.)
    Your blog (and Pap’s music) has been a true blessing to me this year, and I am looking forwarding to your blog in 2009.
    Blessing to you in North Carolina!!

  • Reply
    Becky
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I’ll be making a wish and kissing my Sweetie when the new year comes. But we’ll be at home, safe!
    Happy New Year to you and the rest of the family and acorns!

  • Reply
    Valarie Lea
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Well I will be spending part of my New Years Eve at Wally World!!! I know doesn’t that sound like the funnest thing ever!
    Just got to kill some time before I go pick up the teenager from a friends house. 🙂

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Those are neat traditions. I’ll be on the look-out for Tall and Dark and I will munch those grapes, to be sure.
    Have fun dancing!

  • Reply
    Marlene
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Black eyed peas and hog jowl (substitute pork loin for me!) are a must on New Year’s Day. It will be a quiet day with just my husband and me at home, but after the birth of a grandchild yesterday nothing we do could top that! blessings, marlene

  • Reply
    Farmchick
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    We had dinner with friends and then I went home and went to bed! I am not a night owl either. I wish we had some contra dancing around here. My daughter would love it.

  • Reply
    The Texican
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Hope you, Deer Hunter and the rest of the gang have a great 2009. I will be having the traditional Southern fare at lunch. I would hate to think how far behind I might have been had I not followed these old culinary traditions. Pappy

  • Reply
    Leslie
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I have never been one to do much on New Years Eve accept be with family and a few close friends. And that usually involved just having good fellowship. On New Years Day, we always had and are having today collards and hoppin John (black eyed peas and rice).
    Happy New Year! And may our Lord bless you and your in this new year.

  • Reply
    Lanny
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I suppose if you were single or had a daughter to marry a tall dark-haired (handsome?) man would definitely mean a good year eh? But then I suppose it would mean a good year no matter what day they walked in.

  • Reply
    Osagebluffquilter
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Happy New Year to you and yours. May 2009 be a awesome year.
    BT always goes to a headache hammer in. It’s a few Blacksmith that gathers in someones shop and hammers away.
    I on the hand enjoy that he goes. that way I can watch the Rose parade all by myself without his goofy comments. I love this parade.
    Here is hoping 2009 is our best year yet!
    Patti

  • Reply
    wkf
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    We eat collards instead of cabbage. My mother in law eats
    sauerkraut, though.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    January 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Tipper I hope you got all sweet grapes. Hapy New Year to you and your family. I’ve enjoyed all my visits here in 2008!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    December 31, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Tipper: The one other traditional one is to eat saurkraut on New Years day to have good luck. I think that was started by cabbage growers.
    I do hope the family has a great time on New Years. I wish the best for all the family during 2009.

  • Reply
    Yolanda
    December 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    December 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Tipper, what fun traditions! I’m afraid I’ll be sleeping when the new year rolls in, I’m not feeling well and need the sleep. 🙁
    Blessings, Jen

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