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New Year's traditions
Collard greens, football and resolutions abound

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Business is down by 50 percent at Kirby's Produce stand at the State Farmer's Market in Forest Park, but, at least, Sylvia and Lenzo Kirby can take solace in the fact that it is the holidays.

Sales of collard greens, a New Year's Day staple food, has made up about 60 percent of the Kirby's sales in recent weeks, said Sylvia Kirby. She explained that the reason collard greens are driving their sales is because the end of the year is the peak time when people buy the leafy vegetable.

"Collard Greens are doing good because it's tradition to have them on New Year's Day," said Kirby. "We were told, growing up, that it's supposed to be good luck. You'll be successful and prosperous if you eat collard greens on New Year's Day."

Collard greens are among the most common traditions people partake of on the first day of a new year. Villa Rica resident, David Mullins, drove Tuesday to the State Farmer's Market to find a "bunch," or large collection, of collard greens for his first meal of 2009. "I've gotta have my collard greens, if I'm going to make money next year," said Mullins.

But, not everyone eats the greens on New Year's Day to comply with the myth surrounding the vegetable. "Some people do it because of the superstition, but I do it just because my family has always eaten collard greens on New Year's Day," said Shelia Jenkins, a resident of College Park.

Lovejoy resident, Paul Davis, said there are other reasons to eat the leafy vegetable in addition to believing it will bring money and good luck. "It's a healthy way to start the new year," said Davis.

As 2009 begins, people will partake in several, long-standing traditions. Eating collard greens is just one of those traditions, but people will also gather around television sets to watch football games, and New Year's resolutions will be made as well.

Davis, along with others across the country, will participate in another big tradition on New Year's Day as well. "I'm going to be drinking beer and watching football somewhere," he said. "It's going to be a day full of college football bowl games."

Davis, a devoted fan of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, said the highlight of the day, for him, will be watching the team play Michigan State University in the Capital One Bowl on TV.

"I'm looking forward to Georgia, hopefully, getting back to its winning ways," said Davis, referring to the Bulldogs closing the regular season with a loss to in-state rival Georgia Tech. "I wish they would have been playing in the national championship game, but it didn't work out."

The game will begin at 1 p.m., and it will be aired on ABC. The Capital One Bowl will be one of five college football bowl games featured, including the Outback Bowl, Gator Bowl, Orange Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. The Gator Bowl, with a matchup between Clemson University and the University of Nebraska, will air on CBS at the same time as the Capital One Bowl.

According to Chad Rook, the night manager for Bench Warmers in Stockbridge, Davis will not be in the minority when he watches the bowl games. A large part of the people expected to spend New Year's Day at the restaurant will be there to watch the Capital One Bowl with other Georgia fans.

"It's always huge when Georgia plays," said Rook. "We have 25 TVs in here. Some of them will be showing the other games, but all of the big screens will be on the Georgia game."

Another New Year's tradition is the resolutions people make, although Stockbridge resident, George Strong, said he stopped making resolutions years ago, because, "They never panned out."

According to USA.gov, popular New Year's Resolutions include: losing weight; managing debt; saving money; getting a better job; getting fit; eating right; getting a better education; drinking less alcohol; quitting smoking; reducing stress; taking a trip, and volunteering to help others.

Jenkins said her family makes it a tradition to sit down on New Year's Day and decide what volunteer projects family members will help in the coming year. "We do it to give something back to the community and help others," she said.

Jenkins admits some family members, herself included, have already gotten a jump start on planning, though. "My daughter and I have already come up with our community service for Easter," she confessed.