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jon_gw

Black-eyed peas

jon
53 years ago

Anyone know the historical connection between black-eyed peas and good luck on New Years?

Comments (30)

  • PJ
    53 years ago

    I cook them every year, got the tradition from my aunt who was born in Missouri, but from what I understand it's roots go back to the south. I also open the front and back doors to let al the bad luck out and all the good luck in.

  • RuthieG in MA
    53 years ago

    I don't know where it comes from either but as a born and bred southerner, I have never had a New Years day with out black eyed peas.

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  • Val
    53 years ago

    Sorry, can't shed any light on the origin either - but here we add hog jowls and cornbread to the black-eyed peas for good luck.
    Up 'north' - it was cabbage on Christmas and New Years for good luck

  • Rob Cardillo
    53 years ago

    Grandma always made a pot of beans and greens to insure prosperity for the New Year. Her explanantion? Beans signify coins and greens represent currency. We cook up a bunch every year and haven't gone broke yet!

  • Susanne Crummenauer
    53 years ago

    Maybe it is one of these many symbols of fertility? Beans have many seeds, like pomegranate or tomatoe. Other symbols of fertility are eggs or rice (marriages!). Fertility was the base for a good age insurance in former times and children a guarantee for secure future and happiness. Well, it only makes sense to prepare beans to wish a happy New Year!

  • Kerri
    53 years ago

    I know this is an old posting, but I think I know the answer to this question. My mother always told me that the origin of eating Black-eyed peas on New Years day started during the Civil War. The Northern soldiers raided the South's food supplies one New Year's Eve night and took all the food except for the dried black-eyed peas and the salted pork. On New Years day, all that the southern soldiers had to eat were the peas and pork to keep them alive, so it is concidered good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Years because of this event.

  • IVY KARDOKUS
    53 years ago

    I am a Indiana Hoosier, and don't have a clue of what you are talking about, what does black eyed peas have to do with garden writting? Ivy

  • Field
    53 years ago

    Well, Hoosier Ivy, sometimes we garden writers write about growing vegetables, such as black-eyed peas. And it's often appropriate (and appreciated by the reader) if our piece includes a little vignette--such as how and when the idea got started that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day brings good luck. And, if we don't know how that tradition came about, a garden forum (such as this) just might be a good place to find out. Comprende?

  • IVY KARDOKUS
    53 years ago

    Yea, I see what ya mean, now, I just a green horn, thanks, I'm learning somthing new everyday! Ivy....sorry

  • chloe
    53 years ago

    dont know where it started but Joan and I are having an open house on New years day and cooking Blackeyed peas and rice and greens and corn bread (might as well), for 50.
    yum.

  • jon
    Original Author
    53 years ago

    Thanks folks for the background info on this good luck thing. Seems to be well embedded in the southern culture and with displaced southerners in places like Seattle. A friend in Florida just e-mailed me the local supermarkets there have large displays of black-eyed peas and collards.

    Thanks Field for fielding.

    Chloe,
    I got roped into doing the greens for a group similar in size to yours. I'm curious how you are preparing greens for 50. And what kind of greens are you doing? Any tips appreciated.

  • Field
    53 years ago

    Here are a couple of stories I heard on TV programs during the holidays. One is like Kerri's. Supposedly, the yankee soldiers burned all the southern crops, except for the black-eyed peas, which they thought were weeds. So, the southerners considered it good luck they still had something to eat. (This may have some validity, since in parts of the north black-eyed peas are still known as cow peas.)

    The other is a little more far-fetched. It said that black-eyed peas swell up when cooked, so they are a symbol of fruitfulness. Yeah, sure.

  • chloe
    53 years ago

    Jon, the greens were ...YES.... from the garden. As was the minion in this enterprise since Joan has been cooking all the life professionally and to satisfy her passion.

    The greens were cooked seperatly then chopped and put in with the Blackeyed peas. Rice remained seperate cooked in a simple Rice cooker. I know Joan started Peas 3 days before hand, picked the greens the same day. Should I ask the recipee for you? We made some with meat stock and some vegetarian. and yes I've been eating it ever since with no complaints I love it.

  • jon
    Original Author
    53 years ago

    Chloe,
    Yes I would love the recipe. I'm always curious about regional foodways.

    I did the greens for our New Year's Day deal which was outside in the garden. Not having a clue about how to be "authentic" southern style , I picked a good pile of collards, kales, mustards and beet greens right from the garden 15 minutes before serving. Chopped them up, put in pots with 1/2 inch of boiling water and as soon as they collapsed, dressed with good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt.

    The flavor of winter greens that fresh was incredible. They were vacuumed up. Some attending said in the south hot bacon grease is used on greens. That so? Seems a bit heavy when the greens are so good.

  • chloe
    53 years ago

    yeap true, usually you put something smoky while cooking more like (stewing) your greens. I'm finally finished with the housitting 3 weeks and will be home sunday night, hippee, i'll get recipee fom joan then.

  • Eddie-GA--Zn 7
    53 years ago

    We wash greens 7 times, the last in salt water, bring to a boil then pour off this water, add fresh water, salt and a bit of honey to neutralize any bitterness and cook in a pressure cooker. Along with the greens and peas there is some sort of tradition about whether the first person to enter your door is a man or woman. I forget the significance of that.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Bittersweet Gardens

  • Val
    53 years ago

    Jon - Down here (the Florida Panhandle) we don't 'mix' our greens. Collards are cut, cleaned and chopped - then boiled ad infinitum with smoked pork neckbones for flavor. Another recipe that is our favorite - clean and chop the collards, add a chopped onion and some chopped cabbage - cook. Takes some of the 'bitterness' out of the collards.

    Other 'traditional' Southern greens are mustard and turnip -not a lot of beet greens or kale eaten down here. The turnip greens should have little bits of root cut up in them - boiled until soft - again - with the neck bone for flavor.

    A lot of people eat their greens with pepper vinegar down here. Good - but I prefer mine plain.

  • chloe
    53 years ago

    Jon, upon request here is Joan Moore's recipe.

    1lb blackeye peas
    soak overnight in cold water, drain water, disguard water. Add water to cover beans, bring to boil, simmer until just tender, about 30 minutes

    Finely chop 1 1/2" piece of ginger
    6 cloves of garlic
    4 large jalapenos without seeds
    1 large onion
    1 bunch cilantro, washed stem and leaves.
    Sautee, onion garlic in 2 TBLS olive oil add jalapenos, until translucent in a large stockpot/souppan.
    add 1 large can of Organic tomatoes, chopped, and juice added
    add cooked beans and liquid
    add water or stock to cover beans and rest, decide now if you want your dish to be vegetarian or not, that will decide your choice of stock.
    Greens
    1 large bunch collards or Kale
    wash and remove thick rib, and stems no need to dry, put in soup pan, add 1/4 cup of water, cook med high until wilted and you notice a slight color change.(from green to grey green), they will be almost tender.10 to 15 minutes?
    Drain, disgard liquid.
    chop greens in 1" pieces.

    Back to peas
    simmer 15 more minutes, until onion start to break down, and beans are more tender.
    Add ginger and greens, continue to simmer until the beans become creamy. Add cilantro, stir and cook 10 more minutes

    Add seeded Jalapenos for xtra heat, add cilantro for garnish
    Salt pepper to taste. You can ajust flavors with ginger, cilantro during cooking.

    Of course corn bread goes great with this dish.
    I always cook with organic vegies and organic products overall, and use disgarded cooking water in house plant or to water potted plants or composts.

    Jon, I hope you get 'this' version as I have no idea who got the first one i copied....
    Good day to you all. Chloe

  • windturtle
    21 years ago

    A-pparently they don't eat black-eyed peas in Illinois on New Year's Day. But eh Bob lookie here at all the black-eyed pea-ers! ;-)

  • steeletm
    19 years ago

    According to several newspaper sources the reason we eat black-eyes and collard greens on New Years is to ensure good luck and fortune for the year. The blackeyes are said to represent coins and the collard greens folding money.
    The real reason it seems to me is that with some ham and corn bread (cooked in a cast-iron skillet or "spider") the above makes some of the best eating in the world. Great nutritionally too (cut the fat off the ham).
    There may be Yankees lurking here so I shouldn't have let those secrets out.

  • pls8xx
    19 years ago

    I think I can answer the original question from info passed down from my dad, born in 1899 on a small farm in central Arkansas.

    Much of the population in the last half of the 1800s lived on small farms where the well being of the family was closely tied to their skill as gardeners. Which was done without the aid of fertilizers, hybrids, or insecticides. Blackeyed peas were a common crop. Since they stored well as dried peas they could provide the family with a good food source for many months.

    Southern peas are a legume that uses symbiotic bacteria to supply itself with nitrogen, so a good crop could be had on relative infertile soils. Even better, in many soils of the southeast, the nitrogen fixed by the bacteria persisted into the following year, leading to better crops of any kind. Crop rotation from peas to other crops was known to be a good practice.

    Now for the Good Luck. Those families that had planted so much of their land in peas that they were still eating them at the new year had, by doing so, enriched their soil with the nitrogen that would lead to better crops in the following year. The scenario repeated itself enough til people began to associate peas on new years day as a sign of good luck to follow, and a superstition was born.

  • User
    19 years ago

    Well, this explains a lot. All I do on New Year's Eve is come home from work and go to sleep. I think I'm going to start cooking up some vegetables and see how 2004 comes out. I love reading about folklore, especially something new to me.

  • doobie25
    18 years ago

    black eyed peas ,,im told were eaten on newyears to symbolize ,,eat poor today,,, eat rich the rest of the year //

  • laa_laa
    18 years ago

    Lentils are eaten on New Year's in Italy to bring good fortune. I always thought that the superstition may have been to encourage people to eat the lentils rather than a scarcer type of food that was being held in the winter supplies. Somewhat like the theory that Lent helped people stretch their food supply out through the long winter months.
    Lentils are served with Cicoria, a bitter green and sometimes with Polenta...This parallels the Black eye peas, greens, and cornbread served in this country.
    I really like the theory of peas returning nitrogen to the soil.
    Studying the social effects that food has had on civilizations down through the years is a really interesting field. Lina

  • poppa
    18 years ago

    I think PJ is correct. It has more to do with letting the bad air out and good air in. Beans, lentils, cabbage, all nice flatulance producers... need i say more?

  • live_oak_lady
    18 years ago

    In Louisiana in our family the tradition has always been black eyed peas, cabbage and some kind of pork on New Year's Day. It really was and still is a big "to do". We usually get our cabbage fresh the day before out of the fields, from a farmer friend or our own. The cabbage is smothered down with bacon and onions and a little white wine added to give it a nutty flavor. (For people who don't like cooked cabbage, we make cole slaw). The black eyed peas are cooked in a light roux to make them creamy, but not pasty. That way you have a gravy to go with the rice that is served with it all. Either a pork roast or ham goes with that. And, of course, eggnog and desserts of all kinds.
    I think the custom came about because it was the only type food available long ago at that time of the year. Cabbage grew in the gardens, black eyed peas was kept from the summer crop and the hogs were butchered at that time because it was cold and the meat would not spoil so quickly.
    The peas are for good luck, the cabbage for money. I've always eaten that on New Year's Day because who knows what bad luck or bankruptcy I would have without them. Part superstition too.
    Coleen

  • coffeysa57
    17 years ago

    My sister-in-law sent me this saying about the legend of the Black eyed peas, I thought it was pretty neat. Needless to say, I am making these tonight:

    Lucky Food in America
    There is a Southern saying that dictates eating habits in the Southern United States' New Year's: "Eat poor on New Year's, eat fat the rest of the year." A traditional Southern New Year's meal includes ham, corn bread, black-eyed peas and collard greens. Both black-eyed peas and collard greens are considered especially lucky additions to the dinner table. Black-eyed peas are thought to bring wealth because they look like little coins, in addition to the fact that they swell when cooked -- a sure sign of prosperity. Collard greens are considered lucky because they are green, like greenbacks -- money!

  • pmcd
    17 years ago

    Both my grandmothers put a dime in the balck eyed peas on New Year's Day. Any clue why? Was it merely an attempt to get kids to eat the peas or was there more?

  • pkock
    17 years ago

    An English woman I know claims it's also rooted in the "eye" thing - the idea that there's a seeing eye of some sort looking out for evil on your behalf.

    As for me, I just cooked roast chicken and mashed taters. :)

  • manx
    17 years ago

    Live Oak Lady, I've heard the same too :)

    I was always taught that the tradition is:
    black eyed peas for luck
    cabbage for money
    and cornbread for love

    Ham was usually served with the meal but there was no meaning, just to round the meal out and add flavor to the beans I guess!

    Best way to serve it is, as horrible as it sounds:
    - Can of Trappey's black eyed peas, jalapenos are great
    - Cabbage, remove all outside leaves and just use the center, cut into wedges and steam, don't add anything (though I remember my mother adding white onions)
    - Jiffy cornbread mix, I add cream style corn and half way through put on a layer of shredded cheddar cheese and then pour the remaining half of the batter

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