Why Are Collard Greens Considered Lucky For New Year's?

A new year signifies different things for people all around the world. For some, it's a reason to start fresh, whether that means hunting for a new job, making new friendships, or simply learning new things. For others, a new year is just another excuse to buy a blank calendar. New Year's traditions and resolutions have been customary for millennia. History explains that the ancient Babylonians rang in the new year by celebrating Akitu, a 12-day affair that marked the start of the harvest season in mid-March.

Over time, New Year's festivities greatly evolved as families, communities, and entire cultures developed their own traditions, many of which involving food and drink. Various fares symbolize specific rudiments — and perhaps a few superstitions. For example, Greeks believe that eating pomegranates on New Year's Eve brings forth good fortune and higher chances of fertility, per Greek City Times. On the contrary, eating lobster before the clock strikes midnight is considered bad luck since the crustacean swims backward, thereby indicating that the eater will experience mishaps instead of good luck in the year ahead (via Classroom). And, of course, there's the clinking of champagne glasses which is said to enhance senses and fend off evil, per Farmers' Almanac.

But what about eating particular vegetables to ensure success? Collard greens, for one, have a deep-rooted symbolism in the southern U.S.

Collard greens represent prosperity

Collard greens are packed with beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, according to Healthline. Besides being super healthy, they also come in handy when it comes to inducing wealth and riches. As The New York Times explains, since collard greens resemble paper money, they are a metaphor for wealth. Therefore, it is a widely accepted folklore that munching on hearty collard greens on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day may give rise to riches and comfort. According to Cooking Light, collard greens are often paired with the tasty and nutritious legumes, black-eyed peas, which are known for their dark spots and magical ability to promote affluence in the new year. When the two are combined into a single dish, legend states that you will be better off in the days ahead — not to mention well-fed.

Folks in the Southern U.S. even pin up bunches of collard greens in their doorways to repel evil spirits from entering their homes, according to Real Simple. Whatever long-established New Year's rituals you honor, whether culinary or otherwise, remember it's as special and genuine as you believe it to be.