A dear southern friend introduced me to the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day for luck and prosperity. It is a tradition that dates back to 17th century Virginia and grew in popularity after the Civil War. However, some say the good luck tradition of eating black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, circa 500 AD. It’s possible that the tradition arrived in America with Sephardic Jews, who first arrived in Georgia in the 1730s.
They are traditionally cooked with pork for flavoring ( bacon, ham or sausage), diced onion and served with greens (collard, mustard or kale). The greens represent paper money and the peas represent coins, ensuring wealth and luck. Cornbread is frequently served with the dish and represents gold. Adding a shiny penny to the pot just before serving is another tradition. The person whose bowl contains the penny receives the best luck for the New Year.
Its easy and fun tradition to start and Martha Stewart Everyday Food has a great recipe here.
The old expression, “Eat poor on New Year's, and eat fat the rest of the year.” is a perfect companion to the humble nature of the peas.
Wherever and however you are celebrating, I wish you all lots of health, wealth and happiness!