Why Do People Eat Black-Eyed Peas and Cabbage on New Year’s Day?
This is a tradition that has been going on in my family all my life, but where did the tradition come from?
I was always told that you eat black-eyed peas for luck and cabbage for monetary prosperity.
This practice actually goes back to the Civil War when the Confederate soldiers survived on the black-eyed pea crops during the harsh winters which became a symbol of fortune and prosperity in the south.
There are a number of variations of the luck and prosperity theme like cabbage in some places is replaced with collards, mustard, or turnip greens which resembles paper money while the black-eyed peas represent coins.
Cornbread is another tradition in my family and cornbread is supposed to represent gold.
Some people believe that you must eat 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to get the benefit of luck every day of the new year (366 during leap years).
Another tradition for some is black-eyed peas with stewed tomatoes to represent wealth and health.
Now all of these traditions state that you have to have the black-eyed peas or the wealth and prosperity is null and void. In other words, you can't expect luck and wealth if you only eat the greens without also eating the black-eyed peas.
Also, black-eyed peas are not actually peas but are more in the bean family. Now why they are called peas and not beans is because it is in the family of legumes which also included peas so they just became known as peas so they wouldn't get confused with black beans which are a totally different species.