John C. Campbell Folk School has the odd tradition of shooting a pair of boxer shorts out of a cannon as midnight draws near. I’ve been there to see it, but I’ve never known exactly why they do it.
Dropping a possum at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve is most definitely not a traditional Appalachian custom. Please note that the folks in Brasstown, NC, self-proclaimed “Opossum Capital of the World,” have only been dropping—well, ok, gently lowering in a plexiglas pyramid—possums in front of Clay’s Corner for the last decade and a half or so.
These days the World Anvil Shooting Society holds its annual anvil shooting competition over at Laurel, Mississippi’s Wood Expo every April, but informal backyard anvil shootings as an Appalachian holiday season event can be traced back to the Civil War.
I have heard tell of a family that does something called Fire ballin’ on New Years Eve. Make balls of old rags, soak them in something flammable light them on fire and throw them across the field. I sure hope they only did that on snowy nights! I don’t recommend it either way.
If you wash clothes on New Year’s day, you will continue this each day of the new year.
Now we all know about eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day to bring you health and wealth.
Clean out the pantry and cabinets. Dust them and make sure there is food in it at this time to guard against food insecurity for the coming year.
Cornbread is baked and eaten to ensure honest, steady work and a flow of money.
Recite Psalms 23 while sweeping and mopping the house, always from back to front and down the drive.
Lay out cut onions to soak up any remaining ill or bad fortune so you don’t take it with you into the new year.
Put a silver coin in your wallet/purse to ensure wealth.
Stick seven pennies into a potato, place in a tin can and hide it in the back of the cabinet. You’ll always have what you need.
If a girl would like to know who she will marry, she can throw a ball of yarn out of her bedroom window at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and say, “As I wind he comes” over and over as she begins winding the yarn back into a ball. If she is to marry, her future husband will hand the yarn back through the window to her. If no one appears, she will not marry.
Some folks in Appalachia open every door and window at the stroke of midnight to let out any residual bad luck. They make a loud ruckus banging on pots and pans, setting off fireworks and taking part in other noisy activities to chase it far away.
No season would be complete without checking out The Healing History of Appalachian Christmas Sweets. Cakes and cookies baked during the holiday were thought to have special powers.
Regardless of how you will spend your New Year’s we pray 2022 will be filled with Love, Friendship, Success and Faith. Thank you for spending a little time with us today and as always,
Welcome to the Mountains