New Year’s Black Eyed Peas

Text: “My family is very superstitious and every year on New Year’s Day, we make Texas Caviar which is a dish made up of black eyed peas, black beans, corn, jalenpeños, onion, avocado and a vinaigrette dressing. Everyone who comes over to our house to celebrate the New Year absolutely has to have a bite of Texas Caviar to ensure they’ll have good luck for the whole year. The black eyed peas are what specifically create this good luck. I remember when I was younger, I didn’t really like beans and hated being forced to eat them but my family would always force me.”

Context: The informant grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and her mom is from there too. Her dad is from New Jersey. They have been partaking in this tradition for as long as she can remember. Her mom’s side of the family partook in the tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day before her family did, but they ate them straight out of the can rather than in Cowboy Caviar.

The tradition of black eyed peas goes back to the Civil War, when eating black eyed peas was considered a privilege and lucky. They are supposed to symbolize luck and prosperity, and the informant’s family views them as such still. 

Analysis: The new year is a particularly superstitious time for many people and I believe it is because it is the start of a new cycle. People often see it as a reset, a chance for change, and a new beginning. Because of this, the first day of the new year can be extremely important, as it may set the tone, or the outcome of the rest of the year to follow. So, I believe that in partaking in this tradition, it is the informant and the informant’s families hope that the new year is prosperous and brings good luck.