Good Luck With New Year’s Meals

— Written By Jimmi Buell and last updated by New Year's Healthy Recipe Collard Greens

As New Year’s Day approaches, people around the world plan for the coming year, eager to get off to the best possible start. Many people will “eat for good luck” with special foods, which are traditionally thought to bring good fortune in the new year.

Many nationalities consider eating ham or pork on New Year’s Day to be good luck. Why pork? Europeans hunted for wild boars in forests hundreds of years ago and killed them on the first day of the year. Pigs were also associated with plumpness and getting plenty to eat. This tradition came to the United States when people settled in different regions, especially the Carolinas.

African Americans in the Carolinas during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made one of the most enduring contributions to modern holiday traditions. Hoppin’ John and greens became traditional New Year’s fare, with black-eyed peas thought to bring luck, and rice (which swelled during cooking) and greens (like money) bringing prosperity.

Of course, collard greens would be a good choice to add to a meal on any day of the year! A half-cup of boiled, drained collards have just 25 calories but offer 130 milligrams of calcium. They’re also chock-full of phytonutrients for which your body will thank you. The bottom line? Start out the New Year right — not necessarily with any particular dish, but by eating balanced meals, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and following the age-old tradition of “everything in moderation.”

If you want to keep the New Year’s food tradition while staying in line with the Mediterranean Diet, try this recipe:

Shrimp and Collard Greens Stir Fry


  • ½ lb. frozen shrimp (shelled), thawed
  • 1 lb. collard greens
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. water
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice


  1. Trim the ends off the stems of the greens and separate the leaves. Clean under running water and drain.
  2. Cut stems into 1-inch pieces, and cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Finely mince garlic and grate fresh ginger.
  3. Add canola oil, sesame oil, and ginger to a cold pan and heat on medium-high
  4. When the herbs become fragrant and just begin to turn brown, add the stems of the collards. One minute later add the collard leaves and the shrimp.
  5. Toss well to coat with the oil, and cook until stems become tender and the shrimp turns pink, about 3 minutes.
  6. Serve warm.

Written By

Jimmi Buell, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionJimmi BuellExtension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences Call Jimmi E-mail Jimmi N.C. Cooperative Extension, Polk County Center
Updated on Dec 30, 2019
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