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Thread: Eating black eyed peas on new year's day - the history

  1. #1
    Super Member Ditter43's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Crystal River Florida

    Eating black eyed peas on new year's day - the history

    If you grew up in the south or southwestern parts of this country, then you can relate. I grew up with this belief, but did not know the real reason. My mother always served black eyed peas on New Year's Day, and she said it would bring good luck in the new year. I've carried this tradition forward, but never knew the reason behind it. It became a way of remembrance of my mother and grandmother.

    Black Eyed Peas "The Real Story," is much more interesting and has gone untold in fear that feelings would be hurt. Itís a story of war, the most brutal and bloody war in US history. Military might and power pushed upon civilians, women, children and elderly. Never seen as a war crime, this was the policy of the greatest nation on earth trying to maintain that status at all costs.

    An unhealed wound remains in the hearts of some people of the southern states even today; on the other hand, the policy of slavery has been an open wound that has also been slow to heal but is okay to talk about. The story of *THE BLACK EYED PEA* being considered good luck relates directly back to Sherman's Bloody March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign and was lead by Major General William T. Sherman.

    The Civil War campaign began on Nov. 15, 1864, when Sherman's' troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta ,Georgia, and ended at the port of Savannah on 12/22/1864. When the smoke cleared, the southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found that the blue-belly aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value, and everything you could eat, including all livestock.

    Death and destruction were everywhere. While in hiding, few had enough to eat, and starvation was now upon the survivors.There was no international aid, no Red Cross meal trucks. The Northern army had taken everything they could carry and eaten everything they could eat. But they couldnít take it all. The devastated people of the south found for some unknown reason that Sherman's bloodthirsty troops had left silos full of blackeyed peas. At the time in the north, the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed stock. The northern troops saw it as the thing of least value. Taking grain for their horses and livestock and other crops to feed themselves, they just couldnít take everything. So they left the black eyed peas in great quantities, assuming it would be of no use to the survivors, since all the livestock it could feed had either been taken or eaten. Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation and were facing massive starvation if not for the good luck of having the black eyed peas to eat. From New Years Day 1866 forward, the tradition grew to eat black eyed peas on New Yearís Day for good luck.

    I will have my Black Eyed Peas this New Year's Day!!
    I quilt, therefore I am.

  2. #2
    Super Member luvstoquilt's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Yorkville, IL
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    Me, too! What a great story..I love Black-eyed peas and always have them on New Year's Day. Happy New Year!!! My mother-in-law used to put 12 dried black-eyed peas in her change purse and she threw away one the first of each month. She said that was also for good luck. I never knew anyone else that did that so don't know if it is practiced anywhere. I grew up in Texas and we all ate those peas!
    "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"....E. Roosevelt

    Yorkville, IL

  3. #3
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    home again, after 27 yrs!
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    Ha, ha. I'm from the South and never heard that. This year i didn't get any black eyed peas though.

  4. #4
    Junior Member TShooters's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    North Texas
    My folks always had black-eyed peas, along with cooked greens (collard, turnip, or spinach) that represented wealth in the new year.

    Thanks for the story behind the tradition.
    Count your life by smiles, not tears. Count your age by friends, not years.

    "I, myself, am entirely made of flaws, stitched together with good intentions."

  5. #5
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Live Oak, Texas
    I had never heard the story but as a lover of the black eyed pea we always ate them and always on New Years day. When DH was stationed in places we could not get them my DM would send me bags of dried ones.

  6. #6
    Super Member tutt's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    I never knew the reason that we always ate them on New Year's. Sad how the reasons from traditions sometimes get lost. Thanks for sharing.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2012
    This is what wikipedia has to say about black eyed peas being good luck food.

    Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the Southern United States.

    The "good luck" traditions of eating black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud(compiled ~500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see qara (bottle gourd), rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic lubiya), kartei (leeks), silka (either beets or spinach), andtamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year." However, the custom may have resulted from an early mistranslation of the Aramaic wordrubiya (fenugreek).
    A parallel text in Kritot 5B states one should eat these symbols of good luck. The accepted custom (Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, the standard code of Jewish law and practice) is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day.
    In the United States, the first Sephardi Jews arrived in Georgia in the 1730s, and have lived there continuously since. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the American Civil War.[citation needed]
    Another suggested beginning of the tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops, especially in areas targeted by GeneralWilliam Tecumseh Sherman, typically stripped the countryside of all stored food, crops, and livestock, and destroyed whatever they could not carry away. At that time, Northerners considered "field peas" and field corn suitable only for animal fodder, and did not steal or destroy these humble foods.[4]
    In the Southern United States,[5] the peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hotchili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar.
    The traditional meal also includes collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion.[6] Cornbread also often accompanies this meal.

  8. #8
    Super Member Quiltaddict's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Southern California
    Thank you for sharing that amazing story. I never knew the history of eating blackeyed peas on New Year's Day. But, growing up in Texas we ate them all the time, but always on Jan. 1st. I had better go check my kitchen to see if I have any. If not, I'm heading to the store.

  9. #9
    Super Member Juliebelle's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    North Carolina
    We made a black eye soup and had that with corn bread for lunch.

  10. #10
    Super Member pamesue's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    wow.....thanks for the history lesson....my mom was from Tennessee and we always had black eye peas for dinner.... she said it was for luck but i never knew the reason.......
    Pam H.

    "Those that mind, don't matter and those that matter don't mind" ~ Dr. Seuss

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