First of all, it is essential to note that black-eyed peas are not peas. They are beans. Although they belong to the same family and are legumes just like lentils, that doesn’t make them the same.
Black-eyed peas initially grow in Africa and Asia. They made their way to western nations due to the slave trade. There are stories about how emancipated southern enslaved people first ate it on January 1st, 1863, to celebrate the proclamation made by president lincoln. If that is true, it is easy to see why eating black-eyed peas became a tradition that their descendants still uphold and have spread to others.
Black-eyed peas are a popular new year recipe, and you will find them in many southern and African-American homes during the new year. Most families that eat black-eyed peas on January 1st do so because it has become a tradition passed down from generation to generation.
While that is a reason, another one is that if you eat “poor” on new year’s day, you will eat “rich” meals for the rest of the year. That statement is contradictory, though, if you look at the fantastic nutrients present in black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas contain fiber, protein, iron, potassium, and carbs, and it will be unfair to call them “poor” despite their nutritional value.
So, why do you eat black-eyed peas on new year’s day? Here are five reasons.
1. Black-Eyed Peas for Luck
Everyone says eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for a year worth of luck. However, you should eat at least 365 pieces of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for that to be true. You are right if you guessed one pea for one day of luck.
2. Black-Eyed Peas With Greens for Money
Apart from eating 365 pieces for good luck, adding greens to your black-eyed peas may mean more “greens” that year. Green is the color of money, hence the addition of greens to black-eyed peas. Common greens people use are collards and turnip greens, and the peas represent coins while the greens represent paper money. Others prefer to use cabbage to symbolize money. Therefore, eating this combination will bring you good luck and money.
3. Black-Eyed Peas With Cornbread for Gold
You probably have been served black-eyed peas with cornbread before. Cornbread represents gold, and everyone knows having gold means being rich. The belief here is that somehow you will acquire gold in that year. Most people prefer their black-eyed peas with greens and cornbread.
4. Black-Eyed Peas for Prosperity
When you add stewed tomatoes to black-eyed peas when cooking, that is a symbol of wealth and health. The wealth in this context is not just about having money; it is also about prospering all year long. When you eat black-eyed peas with stewed tomatoes, greens, and cornbread, you will get the best luck for the year.
5. Black-Eyed Peas for a Balanced Diet
As we mentioned earlier, black-eyed peas are nutrition-packed. The U.S Department of Agriculture confirms that black-eyed peas do not have cholesterol and are low in fat and sodium. It is gluten-free and is a healthy source of a balanced diet.
How to Cook Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day
Black-eyed peas are not eaten only at home; local and intercontinental restaurants serve them. You can find black-eyed peas recipes almost everywhere.
Moreover, cooking black-eyed peas, especially dried ones, requires patience. That is because they need to cook longer for softness. You also want to make sure you do not overcook them; they become soggy. That is why it is not only essential to have the recipe, but you should also understand the heating and general cooking process of legumes.
Some people soak them in water for about an hour before cooking, while others use a pressure cooker to aid fast cooking. Whatever you decide to use, the most important thing is to ensure that the excellent luck family meal is cooked right and tastes delicious, especially if you want to motivate others to eat.
What Happens if You Don’t Eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day
Nothing happens when you skip the first day of the year’s traditional meal. However, one thing that may occur is that you get a call from family and friends bugging you about eating black-eyed peas. That is likely to happen if your family never misses the tradition and you live away from them.
Also, if you have eaten black-eyed peas all your life on new year’s day, missing it for one year may cause you to think about it if you become unlucky in the same year. For instance, if you couldn’t achieve a goal you set for that year, you may think missing the meal affected your luck.
Whether that is true or not will depend on your beliefs. Either way, there is no way to confirm if anything terrible happens to you when you don’t eat black-eyed peas for the new year.
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It doesn’t matter if you believe in the black-eyed beans family tradition or if you think it brings luck or not, and what matters is the family coming together to enjoy an age-long tradition on the first day of the year.
The good thing about eating black-eyed peas during the celebration of the new year is that it is perfect for vegetarians. So there is no need to pick out a different recipe for yourself.
Most people that eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day believe in the luck it brings. Even if you don’t believe in “luck and prosperity” or superstitions, that shouldn’t stop you from eating them. Consider all the fantastic nutrition benefits attached to eating black-eyed peas. It may just be a way to pack on more proteins and other nutrients while enjoying a meal with your family.
You can eat black-eyed peas on other days of the year and not necessarily on the first day. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to eat them on New year’s Day for the luck it brings.