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Black-eyed Peas-A Southern New Year's Tradition

Updated on December 8, 2015

What New Year's traditions do you participate in?

For those of us in the southern United States, it is very common to be offered a generous helping of black-eyed peas or cabbage just after midnight on New Year's Eve into New Year's Day.

According to Southern folklore, black-eyed peas are supposed to be the first thing you eat on New Year's Day in order to ensure good luck and prosperity thoughout the coming year.  Cabbage is supposed to represent money.

Even people who do not typically care for black-eyed peas or cabbage will at least eat a spoonful or a bite or two just to ensure good luck for the New Year. Who wants to chance it, right?

Black-eyed Peas
Black-eyed Peas

The Tradition Begins

It is believed that this New Year's practice started around the time of the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were first planted as food for livestock, but later became a staple for Southerners, particularly slaves.

General Sherman’s Union troops destroyed or stole all the other crops from the Confederates, but left behind the black-eyed peas thinking they were only suitable as livestock food. This made the black-eyed pea an important source of nourishment for the surviving Confederates.

There are numerous beliefs about what the black-eyed peas represent and what they should be eaten with to ensure the prosperity and good fortune.

Some examples are:

  • Serving cornbread with black-eyed peas is supposed to represent gold.
  • Some believe that you should eat at least 365 black-eyed peas to make sure you cover the entire year. Some believe a single pea is all you need. That idea seems to work well among those who don't particularly care for black-eyed peas.
  • Some believe that you should have something green along with your peas. The black-eyed peas, in this case represent coins, but to have dollars you need cabbage or turnip greens. Cabbage and cabbage rolls are quite common in my family.
  • Tomatoes are considered heart-healthy and therefore eating stewed tomatoes with black-eyed peas is considered taking care of your wealth and health for the New Year.
  • I’ve never heard of this, but some add a shiny penny or dime to the pot of black-eyed peas just before serving. Whoever ladles up the coin is the luckiest.


How to Cook Black Eyed Peas-Part 1-The Ingredients

How to Cook Black-eyed Peas-Part 2

Interesting Trivia

I participate the exciting and adventurous hobby of geocaching. The first geocache actually contained a can of black-eyed peas.

For more information about geocaching see my hubs:

Geocaching and Splinterheads

Geocaches-An Interesting Look at the Types of Geocache containers being used



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    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Central Texas them, a black-eyed pea is a black-eyed pea. That is funny. Thanks for stopping by invita!

    • invita profile image


      7 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Very interesting, I did not know about this. On a side note, it's funny how the ads get the wrong context and promote the band and Fergie.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL...gotta enjoy 2010 first, Lorlie6!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      This household always eats black-eyed peas and ham shanks on New Year's. Gotta have cornbread, as well.

      Hey, how soon is 2011?

      Can't wait...


    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Happy New Year!

    • mistywild profile image


      8 years ago from Houston, TX (Proud Texan)

      rothflmbo, hilarious, who knows? might work :D :D

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Holy crap Mistywild! That's info that's too juicy not to share! I haven't tried putting it in my wallet. I think I'm going to try all of them this year...just eat until I explode....LOL Then cram all of them in my wallet, my shoe, etc. :) Can't hurt!

    • mistywild profile image


      8 years ago from Houston, TX (Proud Texan)

      thanks for sharing KCC, I do partake in the black eyed peas tradition. My family also participates in the boiled cabbage for luck of money, I put a small piece in my wallet one year and made 6 figures, I think I'll stick to both traditions. Give it a try, if you haven't.

    • KCC Big Country profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Stop it Putz, you're making me hungry!

      Triplet Mom, good to see you! Cabbage has always been a big one for my family. I prefer the cornbread myself to eat with my black-eyed peas.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      8 years ago from West Coast

      I eat Black Eyed Peas every New Years for good luck but had not heard of these. I guess this year I will be eating them with some cornbread and greens to add to the luck!! Great hub!

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      8 years ago

      The tradition is alive and well here in WNC, black -eye peas, collard greens, hog jowl and the works. Collards represent green backs, the black-eyed peas nickels and dimes or change , and hog jowls are for joy. I love em especially slice and cooked on a pancake grill hickory smoked and extra crispy.


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