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Rabbit and greens for New Year's
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I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to Saturday.

I’m more than ready to say goodbye to a decade (if you count from 2001 to 2010) of terrorism, war, pestilence (SARS, avian flu) and economic and housing market meltdowns.

Good riddance, 2010. We’ve had enough here in Newton County of unemployment hovering around 12 percent, and record rates of bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Challenges remain, schools and local governments face some serious budget problems and constraints (don’t we all?), but I’m ready to say hello to 2011.

I’m expecting a year of promise and hope, a start to a decade of renewed growth and optimism.

We just need to help it along.

To that end, I have my little rituals. OK, superstitions.

When I wake up Saturday I’m going to try to remember to say, "rabbit."

It has to be said aloud, too; it doesn’t count to say it in your mind.

To say rabbit the first thing on the first of the month is to have good luck all month long. By extrapolation, if you say it on the first day of a decade, it should last for 10 years.

That’s one I picked up from a college roommate, Ed. He wasn’t particularly lucky, but why take chances?

Donna and I were never sure of the origins of that custom, but a quick check of Wikipedia indicates it’s fairly common, with variants ranging from saying "rabbit" three times, to saying "wabbit, wabbit," which is supposedly common in the Atlanta area. I think some jokester added that last one to the Wikipedia entry, but then, how do your verify folklore?

Two other New Year’s rituals have been part of my life since growing up in south Georgia.

For the main meal of the day, I’ve got to have greens and black-eyed peas. Tradition calls for collards, but they were too pungent for my family’s taste, so it was turnip greens (cooked with the roots and streak of lean) for New Year’s. Donna and I changed that to kale when we learned about the pleasures of that ruffled delight later on, and we’ve even cheated some years and cooked up fresh spinach.

I’ve always felt like a lucky guy, so I guess it’s all worked.

The greens stand for greenbacks, or folding currency.

To hedge your bets, you have to have black eyed peas on the table, too. They represent the coins you’ll bring in for the year.

Cooked up as Hoppin’ John, I can eat a heap of black-eyed peas.

Maybe that’s why my coin jar stays full most years.

The perfect New Year’s Day meal will be accompanied with a sweet potato and corn bread. I know of no superstitions tied to either, but it’s part of the tradition.

As for the greens and peas and "rabbit," I know deep down that there’s no cause-and-effect involved in these rituals and any positive outcomes for the decade.

But then again, scientists showed last week that placebos had a healing effect even when the folks knew that they were just being given sugar pills.

That was more than anecdotal, that was a scientific study.

So maybe, even though I know I’m just being superstitious when I eat my greens and my black-eyed peas and say "rabbit" on Saturday, I really am making the world, and the decade, better.

It’s worth a try.


Tharon Giddens is editor of The Covington News. Reach him at ((678) 750-5011 or at