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Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom



Happy New Year!

Black-Eyed Peas

If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.

People in almost every country in the world celebrate the first day of the new year with special customs and traditions meant to bring good luck.

  • People in Japan try to swallow a long noodle without breaking it.
  • Austrians try to touch a pig.
  • Dutch people eat something in the shape of a circle.
  • Spanish people eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year.
  • Italians let their church bells peal.
  • The Swiss beat drums and drop dollops of whipped cream on the floor and allow them to stay there, symbolizing the richness of the year to come.
  • In North America, we sound sirens and party horns.
  • The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.
  • In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.
  • Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition for the Jewish New Year.
  • In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.
  • In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
  • In the early American colonies, the sounds of pistol shots rang through the air.
  • Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in ancient Rome.
  • Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by ancient Persians.
  • Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.
  • In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware were exchanged for good luck. First footing was also an important of the celebration. According to this custom, the first foot to cross a threshhold after midnight will predict the next year's fortune. New brides, new mothers, anyone tall and dark and anyone born on January 1 were considered good luck.
  • The ancient Babylonians returned borrowed farm equipment.
  1. Students will find the locations mentioned above on a world map.
  2. Students will discuss their own new year customs, (watching football bowl games, banging pots at midnight, etc.)

In Oklahoma, and throughout the American South, people eat a bowl of black-eyed peas, or Hoppin' John on New Year's Day.

Hoppin' John is said to have originated with African slaves on southern plantations. Historians have two theories as to where the name "Hoppin' John" originated. The first comes from the idea that when guests would arrive at one's home for dinner, the host would say "just hop in, John," meaning they should make themselves at home and join in the dinner festivities. The second comes from a story that children gathered prior to dinner and would "hop around the table."

Black-eyed peas, also called cow peas, are grown in Oklahoma, mostly to bale as feed for animals. They also grow well in Oklahoma gardens.

Happy New Year in Many Languages
  • Chinese (Cantonese): Gung hay fat choy ("May you become prosperous.") or Sun nien fai lok ("Happy new year")
  • Chinese (Mandarin): Xin nian yu kuai
  • Danish: Godt Nytår
  • Dutc: Gelukkig nieuwjaar
  • Farsi (Iran): Aide shoma mobarak
  • French: Bonne année
  • Gaelic: Aith-bhliain Fe Nhaise Dhuit
  • German: Gutes Neues Jahr
  • Hawaiian: Hauoli Makahiki Hou
  • Hebrew: Shanah tovah
  • Hmong: Nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
  • Indonesian: Selamat Tahun Baru
  • Italian: Buon Capo d'Anno
  • Japanese: Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
  • Norwegian: Godt Nyttår
  • Tagalog: Maligayang Bagong Taon
  • Polish: Szczesliwego Nowego roku
  • Portuguese: Feliz ano novo
  • Romanian: La Multi Ani
  • Russian: S Novym Godom
  • Spanish: Feliz Año Nuevo
  • Sudanese: Wilujeng Tahun Baru
  • Swedish: Gott Nytt År
  • Turkish: Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
  • Welsh: Blwyddyn Newydd Dda
  1. Students will research to identify the countries where each language is spoken.
  2. Students will locate the countries on a world map.
  3. Students will select two or more of the countries and research to find New Year's custom.