[caption id="attachment_14596" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/12\/New-Years.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/12\/New-Years.jpg" alt="PIGS \u201cROOT\u2008AHEAD\u201d so they are considered a symbol of progress and good fortune. What can it hurt? Why not whip up a meal of roast pork, sauerkraut and black-eyed peas for New Year\u2019s Day? " width="400" height="315" class="size-full wp-image-14596" \/><\/a> PIGS \u201cROOT\u2008AHEAD\u201d so they are considered a symbol of progress and good fortune. What can it hurt? Why not whip up a meal of roast pork, sauerkraut and black-eyed peas for New Year\u2019s Day? [\/caption]\r\n\r\nLaura Dean Bennett\r\nContributing Writer\r\n\r\nWell, the thrill of Christmas is over and I\u2019ve probably put on five more pounds, but there\u2019s still one more compelling excuse for overeating.\u00a0\r\n\r\nNew Year\u2019s.\r\n\r\nLet us decide what foods to include in the last debauchery of this holiday season by considering which foods are thought to be the luckiest.\r\n\r\nYou may have heard the expression, \u201cRooting ahead into the new year.\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nPork is a celebratory dish in all pig-loving cultures around the world.\r\n\r\nPigs \u201croot ahead\u201d as they eat, as opposed to the backwards scratching of chickens and turkeys, so they are considered a symbol of progress and good fortune.\u00a0\r\n\r\nA lot of people wouldn\u2019t think of starting the new year without eating pork \u2013 I guess maybe also because pork is from pigs, which are known for their \u201crich\u201d layers of fat.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAlso, maybe, because we have left-over hams from Christmas \u2013 at least what we didn\u2019t already grind up for ham salad.\u00a0\r\n\r\nOf course, we could probably eat ham salad sandwiches for New Year\u2019s eve and kill two birds with one ham, so to speak.\r\n\r\nMy mom would usually cook up a home-butchered pork roast, a mess of sauerkraut, and a pot of black-eyed peas.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAs a child, I wanted none of that. Okay, I liked the pork roast, but the sauerkraut and black-eyed peas were of no interest.\r\n\u00a0\r\nMy taste buds have matured since then, and now I love sauerkraut \u2013 one out of two isn\u2019t bad.\r\n\r\nBesides kind of falling into the round category, there\u2019s possibly another reason why black-eyed peas have historically been considered lucky, especially by folks in the South.\r\n\r\nAfter the Civil War, starving Union soldiers ate up Southern crops, but they left behind the black-eyed peas, which they considered to be livestock feed.\u00a0\r\n\r\nOf course, Southerners knew that the hearty legumes are full of protein and had been eating them for years.\u00a0\r\n\r\nBlack-eyed peas had been providing much-needed sustenance during the war and continued to do so during the period of reconstruction when the possibility of starving to death had to be very real for many families.\r\n\r\nThat alone must have cemented their reputation as being very lucky, indeed.\r\n\r\n\u201cPeas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold,\u201d goes an old Southern saying.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s worthy of note that all three of these foods were staples on the tables of women trying to feed their families in the hard years following the war.\u00a0\r\n\r\nCabbage, and hence, sauerkraut, is green like money\u2013 automatically making them suitable for a New Year\u2019s meal.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAnother reason for eating sauerkraut at New Year\u2019s may have to do with timing of cabbage harvesting, and the shredding and pickling of pounds and pounds of it to preserve as sauerkraut.\u00a0\r\n\r\nIf you\u2019ve ever prepared, or brined your own sauerkraut, like my dad did,\u00a0you know it takes\u00a0six to eight weeks to ferment. So, if your cabbage is harvested at the end of October, the kraut is just about perfect for eating at the end of the year.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAnd the healthy, tart kraut makes the perfect side dish for rich, salty pork.\u00a0\r\n\r\nLots of people like to include green stuff like\u00a0collards, kale, peas, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in their New Year\u2019s menus.\u00a0\r\nSome of these greens are also round, like coins.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThat makes them twice as lucky, I guess, because they are perennial favorites on the table for New Year\u2019s Eve and New Year\u2019s Day.\u00a0\r\n\r\nCollards, turnip greens and mustard greens are all common greens for a New Year\u2019s meal in New England and the South, although cabbage is probably the most popular of all green vegetables in every region.\r\n\r\nThese vegetables are plentiful and easy to grow, the leaves being\u00a0flat, like paper currency, and thus favored for the possibility of being able to attract paper money to the family pocketbook in the new year.\r\n\r\nLentils and black-eyed peas also evoke roundness, so that\u2019s probably why many families wouldn\u2019t think of risking starting a new year without eating them.\r\n\r\nTo this day, all over Italy, and in the homes of families of Italian descent here in America, people welcome in the New Year with lentil dishes, often pairing lentils with sausage, maybe because sausage slices also look like coins.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe eating of pickled herring for good luck at New Year\u2019s is not common to just one region of the U.S.\u00a0\r\n\r\nAny area with a large Scandinavian population, such as the Norwegian and Swedish communities in Minnesota, will indulge in huge herring extravaganzas this December 31st, when Scandinavian tradition dictates eating the little fish right at the stroke of midnight.\r\n\r\nFamilies of German descent are also partial to eating pickled herring.\u00a0\r\n\r\nThe custom might have come from the fact that the shiny scales of herring give off the flash of money \u2013 a matter of absolutely no import to me, as, to my way of thinking, the odor of herring gives off an air of \u201cI wouldn\u2019t eat that if I was starving to death!\u201d\u00a0\r\n\r\nOf course, my taste buds may change their minds one day, like I said, they\u2019ve been known to do that.\u00a0\u00a0\r\n\r\nTo sum it all up, although I\u2019ve been adhering to many theories regarding the \u201clucky New Year\u2019s meal\u201d for many years, I can\u2019t say as how these foods have brought an extraordinary amount of luck to me.\u00a0\r\n\r\nHowever, seeing as how I am still alive, and as anyone who knows me can attest \u2013 am extremely well-fed \u2013 and have a secure roof over my head and a warm, safe place to sleep. \r\n\r\nMaybe I\u2019m a lot luckier than I thought!\r\n\r\nSo, from my table to yours, I\u2019m wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year, no matter what you choose to eat.