Do You Eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Years Day?


Are Black-eyed peas a part of your New Year’s tradition? Chances are, if you are from the South, you will serve up or consume a portion of black-eyed peas and a “mess of greens.” on New Years Day.

My mother, always told me that eating collards and peas would bring wealth and good luck in the New Year. Although, I was raised in the South and love Southern foods, as a child, black-eyed peas and collards was not one of my favorite dishes. But, I dutifully ate the proferred peas and greens, not wanting to be the recipient of bad luck. Now a days, I am convinced that my mother knew it was the only way to get my to eat black-eyed peas and collards, one of her favorite meals.

But, since greens are representative of dollars and peas represent coins, perhaps it is not a tradition, I should overlook. So, I decided to investigate the origins of “Greens and Peas,” on New Years Day.

In the South, the origins of black-eyed peas cooked with hog jowls dates back to the Civil War. It was said that General Sherman and his Union troops on ransacking food stores looked on black-eyed peas as food for the animals and left it behind. The Confederate troops were left to survive on peas and salted pork and so the tradition began.

Another theory is that black-eyed peas and hog jowls were traditionally given to slaves on New Years Eve. When the Emancipation Proclaimation was celebrated in January 1863, the tradition of soul food was born.

A practical theory on black-eyed peas is that in the South, it is a late harvested crop, so peas in the fall and winter were more plentiful.

Let’s go further back in time, to ancient Egypt and the time of the Pharoahs. Eating a common food like peas was seen as a sign of humility before the Gods. The same can be said for the Jewish tradition of eating peas on Rosh Hashana, showing a sense of humbleness before God.

My mother always said you had to cook the peas with a dime or a penny to ensure good luck. Just be careful to find the coin or an emergency trip to the dentist might be part of your New Year’s plans.

It is said that you should cook 365 peas, no more or less to ensure good luck. For every pea over 365, you will have a day of bad luck.

You should always leave one pea on your plate for good luck. Hhmm.., I always leave one bite of food on my plate. It drives my husband crazy but it is something I have always done. The exception being chocolate. No chocolate left behind is my motto!

Whatever your tradition, I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2016! Eat hearty and healthy and Eat Real!

Happy New Year!


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Patricia Gordon says

Love this southern tradition. Trade you for lutefisk!

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