Friday, January 01, 2010
Something my wife doesn't really understand, but puts up with anyway, is my insistence on eating black eyed peas on the first day of the year. She originates from Nebraska and had never encountered any of these weird looking little beans in her childhood. I, however, grew up with them and with the idea that it's somehow good luck to eat them on New Year's day.
I don't really know why. I read once that the tradition goes back over a thousand years with Hebrew culture eating them on their Rosh Hashana. Jewish settlers in the South carried on the tradition and it somehow fused into the rest of the populace. I've heard stories that during the civil war the Union armies would steal all the food during their marches, but considered field peas to be unfit for anything but livestock and ignored them...thus the southerners would consider it "lucky". My own opinion is that these hardy little peas are easy to grow in great abundance even in droughts and, during years of poor harvests, black eyed peas would be just about the only food left in the root cellar around the first of the year. I imagine mothers telling their kids that it was good fortune to eat them just to get their kids to eat the dang things and quit asking for other foods that were not available.
Whatever....I eat them...with hot sauce. I don't have many actual traditions in my life but this is one I make an effort to keep going. I'm thinking that it works too. I've never died in a year that I've started off by eating black eyed peas.