Every year, my family spends new years on Dauphin Island. Since there’s a fireworks ban, we bang pots and pans at midnight, and everyone must eat at least a spoonful of black-eyed peas and collard greens. On New Year’s Day, we have a big ol’ park football game (and not tag football, either – it’s violent!). I love these traditions, which is why I was so sad that BDK and I weren’t able to make it to the Island this year. We stayed home and drank champagne in our pajamas, but we STILL each ate a spoonful of black-eyed peas and collard greens.
Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day (or shortly after midnight on New Year’s Eve) is thought to bring prosperity and good luck to those who partake. The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations, including serving them with greens (for good luck with money) or with cornbread (no word on what that’s supposed to do for you).
For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. That’s a lot of peas! Some Southerners add a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving, and the person whose bowl contains the coin receives the best luck for the New Year. Reminds me of my husbands crazy meemaw, who used to put a horseshoe in the dog’s water for extra iron!
We love that some Southern brides have chosen to incorporate black-eyed peas into their wedding days, whether using them as a mason jar or vase filler, or tossing them for good luck instead of confetti or petals!
Credits from top to bottom and left to right: Melissa Schollaert via this awesome V4 wedding, next two images Millie Holloman via SMP, Morgan Trinker, and Studio 56 Photography
Does your family have any crazy New Year’s traditions? How many of y’all eat black-eyed peas and/or collard greens at the New Year? Will you or have you incorporated black-eyed peas into your wedding decor?
Hungry for more? Dig into our other Southern Delicacies: