The Black-Eyed Peas
January 02, 2013
What is up with those black-eyed peas, anyway? It's always been a tradition in my family to eat them on New Year's Day to bring good luck, but I never really knew the reasoning behind the tradition. After reading numerous posts on Facebook from my friends complaining about eating their peas, I decided to see why we put ourselves through this (for some) torture.
The practice of eating black-eyed peas (they really aren't peas, they are beans) for luck apparently started back in the Civil War days. The fields of black eyed peas in the south were ignored by Sherman's troops when they stole or destroyed other crops. That left a good source of protein for the surviving Confederates, and the peas that were once grown for livestock feed became an important food source.
Many variations on the tradition have evolved:
- Serving the peas with greens (collards, mustard, or turnip greens); the peas represent coins and the greens paper money.
- Cornbread, when served with the peas, represents gold.
- Black-eyed peas, when served with stewed tomatoes, represent wealth and health.
- Adding a penny or a dime to the pot before serving assures that the person whose bowl contains the coin will receive the best of luck for the New Year.
Some say that the best way to have luck for the entire year is to make sure you eat 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. So get busy eating your peas! Just don't swallow the coin!
Happy New Year!