New Year’s Day food tradition – black-eyed peas and greens - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

New Year’s Day food tradition – black-eyed peas and greens

Posted: Updated:

Madison (WKOW)  --  Many people who live in the Southern United States ate black-eyed peas and collard greens today as part of their long-standing tradition for good luck on New Year's Day.

Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s has been considered good luck for at least 1,500 years.   According to Wikipedia, the tradition dates as far back as ancient Egypt. During the time of the Pharaohs, it was believed that eating a meager food like black-eyed peas showed humility before the gods, and you would be blessed. Also according to Wikipedia, the Babylonian Talmud, which dates to 339 CE, instructs the faithful Jews to eat black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year.  Some historians believe the tradition arrived in America with Sephardic Jews, who arrived in Georgia.  Others believe black-eyed peas have simply been a ready crop staple in the South during the winter months. 

Southerners also add greens to menu and sometimes cornbread in keeping with the belief, "peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold."  The most common choices for the greens are from the collard, turnip, or mustard roots. 

The website (  also lists some other first-day food traditions from around the world. 

1.  Grapes (Portugal and Spain)
Grapes are the lucky food of choice in Spain, Portugal, and much of the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in South America.  Revelers must consume twelve grapes before the clock tolls midnight.   Peruvians go one step further by eating a thirteenth grape after the clock rolls over to the next year.

2. Pork (Most of the Western World)
Pigs and pork have been a symbol of good luck and a traditional food to eat on New Year's Day for centuries.  In the European Middle Ages, wild pigs were caught, slaughtered, and roasted on New Year's Day.  Later, pigs were given as presents to other families to signify wealth and prosperity. 

3. Cubans eat roast suckling pig while Swedes will eat roasted pigs' feet.  

4. The website adds that Germans go one step further with the pork concept.  There, marzipan pigs known as Glücksschwein (lucky pigs) are given at New Year's Eve to signify luck in the coming year.

Powered by Frankly