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The Tradition Behind Eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s

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I went to the store yesterday to buy my black eyed peas for tomorrows lunch. Why? I’m not real sure except that it’s tradition in my family to have black eyed peas and cornbread on New Year’s Day. I looked up the tradition and here is what I found.

People in the Southeast eat black eyed peas on New Year’s to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. If you give someone from the Northwest black eyed peas they think it’s food for cattle. I remember the year I went to California for New Year’s and and asked for black eyed peas at a restaurant and they nearly gagged. It’s considered animal food there not people food. They couldn’t believe we actually ate them.

The kicker is they are actually right, it started out as a crop raised to feed animals up until the Civil War. It then became a nourishing food for Confederate soldiers when Sherman’s troops destroyed other food crops.

Another tradition is to have cabbage, or greens of some sort (turnip, mustard or collard) which also brings good luck and prosperity.

Then there is your cornbread, I love black eyed peas and cornbread!

So here is what each food stands for: black eyed peas are coins, cabbage or greens are paper money and cornbread is gold.

Some people say you have to eat 1 pea for each day of the year, I’ve always been told as long as you eat 1 pea, it serves it’s purpose. So those of you who don’t like them at least eat 1 little bitty pea (they’re tiny) so you have good luck.

Now I can’t say any of this actually works seeing as I eat all three every year and still can’t win the lottery; but I won’t take any chances. I will be eating some collard greens along with my black eyed peas and cornbread for lunch tomorrow!

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