Here's wishing everyone reading this a happy and blessed 2010.
Here at Chez Pookie et Suzanne, our New Year's celebrations began and ended with the eating of the traditional Southern New Year's food: black-eyed peas and cabbage. For anyone not from here, it's an old custom to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for luck in the coming year. Grocery stores put out displays of black-eyed peas right after Christmas. Some restaurants put them on the menu for the day. When I was a child, even my baby sister, who could usually get away with her picky eating, would be required to choke down a spoonful. (Okay, some years she negotiated that down to only one or two peas.)
I was grown before I heard of eating cabbage on New Year's Day. Uncle Pookie's family ate both, saying the peas were so you'd have plenty of change (coins) in the coming year and the cabbage so you'd have plenty of paper money. I've since encountered others who eat both and say the peas are for general luck and the cabbage for money.
I don't actually believe in good luck tokens and such, but I do believe in customs. Harmless traditional practices like this ought to be kept up. They add flavor to life. A sense of texture to the year and continuity to a string of years. And when they're regional or local, they help prevent every part of America looking exactly like every other part.