On New Year’s Day, Gracie and V.O. Clark will be eating black-eyed peas, turnip greens and cornbread.
“It’s tradition,” Gracie Clark said. “We’ve always done it. Black-eyed peas are supposed to be good luck and they’re just good.”
The Clarks are among several local residents who plan to fix traditional fare that they hope will bring good fortune in the coming year.
Leigha Beckham will be serving cabbage on the first day of 2012.
“It’s for prosperity,” she said. “It’s supposed to represent money. Some people do greens but I don’t like greens so I do cabbage.”
Machelle Kearney said her husband Jeffery will fix seasoned black-eyed peas, mixed greens and cornbread.
“My husband is a great cook,” she said. “It’s tradition. It’s what his grandfather used to do.”
Hilda Orlidge will be eating corned beef hash, cabbage and black-eyed peas.
“I’m from New Orleans,” she said. “It (the traditional meal) helps you out and if it don’t, it fills you up.”
Sarah Hester picked up greens and peas to prepare for family and friends during a recent trip to the grocery store.
“My mother was Native American and she always cooked greens for money, black-eyed peas for luck and cornbread so we would always have bread in the house,” she said. “My father was German so he always had mom fix corned beef and cabbage.”
The practice of eating black-eyed peas for New Year’s luck apparently began in the South after the Civil War. The peas became a sign of luck because they were one of the few crops that weren’t burned or confiscated by Union soldiers. The troops considered field peas to be animal food. However, the peas helped save many families from starvation and the tradition of serving them on New Year’s Day was born.
In the South, people started eating collard greens to celebrate the New Year because they were supposed to represent money. So, what about eating cabbage on New Year’s Day? Well, in Ireland, Germany, and parts of the United States, cabbage is also associated with luck and prosperity because the green leaves apparently resemble money.
Whether or not they bring luck, greens and peas are nutritious. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, black-eyed peas are low in fat, cholesterol-free and half a cup provides more than 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber. Cabbage, collard and turnip greens are a good source of fiber and are loaded with nutrients and vitamins including Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.