USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘black eyed peas’
Folk Beliefs

Peas and Cabbage: Folk Belief

Okay this one might sound a bit strange. So every 1st of the year after New Year’s Eve, my family uhh, during lunch time, we always cook cabbage and black-eyed peas, oh and sausage -um- y’know just for the taste, and cabbage was for money and black-eyed peas were for good luck.

 So, like, that would predict that whole year so, like, the luck and the money and hopefully, like, you eating more of one of each would, like, give you good fortune for either one of those throughout the year.

 The Informant was born and raised in Texas. He’s an Economics student at USC. The Informant, my housemate, told me about his odd New Year’s ritual/folk belief at around midnight on 4/22 while he played PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, an intensive online battle royale game. He said he has done this ritual with his family since he was little and it has morphed into what he calls a superstition (folk belief). If he lets the 1st of the year go by without cabbage and black-eyed peas, his outlook on the year is bleak.

This is apparently a common ritual meal in the South. Peas have been a humbling food for years. It’s said that the food was too lowly for Union soldiers to eat during the Civil War and thus peas were the only food left for Confederate Soldiers. They considered themselves lucky to have just have a meal of peas, possibly giving rise to the food’s lucky connotation. Cabbage is eaten to bring prosperity in the upcoming year. The leafy green leaves represent money.

Based off of the Informant’s own statement that this folk belief is strange, I was surprised to discover this was far from an uncommon yearly ritual meal. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a single black-eyed pea, but maybe I’ll eat some peas and cabbage next January 1st. Can’t hurt right?

Customs
Foodways
Material

Black eyed peas for New Year

“On New Year’s, we eat black eyed peas and greens.”

 

My informant is of Italian Catholic extraction and grew up in Chicago. Despite her family having no connection to the South, they eat the traditionally Southern dish of black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s. This is an indication of the way that culture spreads throughout the United States. Both foods are traditionally lucky to eat, especially as a way to help ring in the new year. My informant wasn’t sure what the significance of the foods is; she just knows that it’s lucky and they do it every year.

[geolocation]