Today, in homes all across America, folks who wouldn’t dream of practicing witchcraft will indulge in an act of sympathetic magic. The eating of lucky foods on New Year’s Day.
In my over-active imagination, this is how common magical practices of the past migrated into the realm of folklore. From fear of ridicule or persecution, folks no longer talked about the whys and wherefores of certain magical practices. They laughed it off as something quaint their grandfolks did. Something they continued doing for nostalgia’s sake.
Growing up, my mother certainly fit that bill. She was insistent that we all eat some of each lucky food. When I asked her why we were doing this, she’d say “you want to have good luck in the New Year, don’t you?” She’d laugh at the silly superstition, but by God we’d all eat some of each. And we could do it the easy way. Or the hard way.
Here in the south, the usual menu is blackeyed peas, cornbread or sweet potatoes, cabbage and pork. It’s pretty easy to draw a line between blackeyed peas and beads which repel the evil eye. Cornbread and sweet potatoes are gold, which we’d all like to have more of. Cabbage is green and patterned, like folding money. Not sure about the pork, though …
My family will be eating Lionhead meatballs and cabbage in chicken broth, and blackeyed peas and their juice ladeled over our cornbread, like my grandparents, the farmers, fixed it.
Today, me and mine will gather around the dining table and practice a little witchcraft.
And from the lack of blackeyed peas on the grocery shelf, looks like my neighbors will be practicing witchcraft, too.