It’s a good thing I grew up liking black-eyed peas, because my mother served them every New Year’s Day. She didn’t think this tradition would bring good luck, as some people believe, but the practice persisted at our house.

Many Americans welcome the new year with cabbage, herring, honey, sardines, or salt. The Japanese eat long noodles. The Greeks bake a special bread. In Spain, the custom is to eat 12 individual grapes in the seconds leading up to the new year. Anthropologists say that eating certain foods to change one’s fortune dates back to ancient Babylonia.

The prophet Jeremiah wasn’t looking for good luck. As God’s spokesman during a difficult time in Israel’s history, he suffered rejection and persecution. Yet God’s Word produced deep joy in his heart. In a vivid statement, he said to God, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).

Eating black-eyed peas won’t influence the year ahead of me one bit. But if I’ll make God’s Word a part of my life each day through reading, study, and memorization, that will make a difference. The Bible is food for thought and nourishment for the new year.