Black-Eyed Peas~ A Southern Tradition for Luck & Prosperity in the New Year

Posted by Jennifer Carles on Friday, December 31st, 2021 at 3:30 PM
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If you are planning to celebrate the New Year here in Texas, it is likely that you will be offered black-eyed peas in some form! These flavorful legumes are traditionally, according to Southern folklore, the first food to be eaten on New Year’s Day for luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead. Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved to include:

~Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.

~ Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.

~ For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.

~ Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.

~ In some areas, actual values are assigned with the black-eyed peas representing pennies or up to a dollar each and the greens representing anywhere from one to a thousand dollars.

~ Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year!

Here are just a couple of the most popular ways to prepare these yummy beans:

Hoppin’ John – Although served throughout the year as well, Hoppin’ John is one of the most traditional New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day dishes in the South. Black-eyed peas are cooked with rice, pork (such as chopped pork or ham, hog jowls or hambones, fatback or bacon) and seasonings. Sometimes chopped onions and hot sauce are added.

Texas (Black-Eyed Pea) Caviar – This is a popular casual alternative that blends Southern and Mexican flavors with black-eyed peas and is usually served with tortilla chips. This is my family’s favorite by far!

Black-Eyed Pea Salad – There are many recipes for salads made with black-eyed peas, so this is a good choice for a side dish served with other dishes.

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