Every year since I can remember, except on New Year’s Day 2011, I have eaten black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. I don’t always eat the greens, which are supposed to bring money in the new year, but “hoppin john” has been on my menu each year except for this year’s one noticeable faux-pas. On New Years, 2006 I made my boyfriend drive from store to store until he found an acceptable can to bring along to a weekend away. In 1998 I spent the new year at the South Bronx home of a Puerto Rican friend. Her family had never even heard of the tradition and did not know if Goya made black-eyed peas, so we spent all day scouring the South Bronx for a can (hint: “black-eyed peas” does not translate directly into Spanish). We finally found them and I ended up eating a few forksful from the can, cold. But I had a great 1998.

And I won’t even lie — I did feel the difference in 2011. It wasn’t a terrible year for me or anything, more of a holding pattern, stepping stone, take the good with the bad type of year. I had my ups and downs like any other year but in the back of my mind I knew that my luck was tainted for that twelve months. I knew the reason it was “just ok” instead of “amazing” was that on New Year’s Day 2011 I got so caught up in brunching with friends in New York City that my lifelong tradition slipped my mind. Before I knew it, it was January 2, 2011, and I realized I’d messed all the way up.

Now that I know my life won’t crumble if I forget to have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, I’m even more determined to make sure I have some this year. The need for peas to bring in the New Year is important to me as a Southern tradition that I’d like to preserve. Frankly, the tradition still carries more weight with me than any superstition or even my horoscope; part of me thinks that my failure to follow-through two years in a row will result in some sort of double bad luck, and I just can’t have that. I never win the lottery or even a free Pepsi from the codes that come under bottlecaps, but my life is good and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. As my mother says every year: “If we’ve been having good luck, I sure don’t wanna see bad.”

Do you eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day?

  • OSHH

    Yes as a southren tradition, I always like to have my black eye peas and greens for New Year’s Day dinner.

  • Usagi

    My mum’s side does, but not me. Greens and black-eyes are one of the grossiest foods I’ve ever eaten. It’s just so damn gross.

  • Vee

    I like greens but I don’t care for black eyed peas.

  • AJ

    Black-eyed peas are a must

  • Moira

    My family doesn’t make them traditionally, but we have for the past few years, and I will be making them again this year.

  • Kinzy

    its a tradition in my family as well and i will most definitely be eating black eyed peas and greens on sunday :)

  • YeahRight2011

    Yes. Its tradition in my family and we enjoy them.

  • Ke$h

    Yes Black eye peas with collard greens and fried fish is a must in my West Indian household. It suppose to bring a luck, fortune, and safe new year.

  • Alexandra

    I’ve never ate a black eye pea before.
    But family does have a tradition. I’m Haitian & every New Years/Independence Day we eat Pumkin Soup (Soup Joumou).

  • Umm

    I used to hate New Years Day as a child because I knew my mom would be cooking black eyes peas. GROSS!

  • LemonNLime

    Yep black eyed peas, greens, and chitterlings (gross)!

  • Thcknes

    Yes, it’s a part of our family’s tradition.

  • Bridget

    Wouldn’t be New Year’s w/o black-eyed peas and collards.

  • saradoubleu

    wow I’ve never heard of this but i just might try some tomorrow night

  • theGirlintheMirror

    Yup…My momma fixes black eyed peas and cornbread every news years! (can’t forget the hot sauce) : )

  • CD86


  • niki

    Not in years. My mom and some family members still do. My mother also had the New Years tradition of cleaning everything in the house. i mean to the point there better not be dirty clothes, dirty dishes or anything dirty in the house come midnight. Also that a male had to be the first to walk into the house. Both were suppose to promote good luck.

    Thinking about it my mother does a lot of superstitious things.

  • http://www.fufuandoreos.com fufuandoreos

    I don’t think it’s superstition. It’s just tradition. My Mom told me about the “good luck” thing when I was younger but now we just do it to break bread as one family.

    And it tastes good, c’mon!

    We’re Nigerian, but my Mom is adept at combining Southern Black American cuisine with Nigerian dishes. We eat our peas with spinach and our red pepper/tomato stew w/ white rice of course. Gotta love rice.

  • http:ethercapacious.blogspot.com Auntybelle

    Yes, of COURSE we have Black-eyed Peas on New Year’s Day–THE Southern Tradition. Of course…we have the most hilarious family story attached to those peas…

  • Lucumi Lady

    Always cook black eyed peas & rice along with collard greens on New Years Day. I even prepare a piece of pork (i’m long time vegetarian) too and make a traditional NY plate – for my ancestors. I think it’s important to keep traditions alive, even some silly ones.

  • Ann

    I did it yesterday for the first time. My mom, who’s Jamaican said one of her Caribbean friends (I forget which island) told her to eat rice n black eyed peas with saltfish for luck in the new year. So, looks like we’ve got a new tradition.

  • ahimsa

    Even though I have not lived in the south for many years I still try to eat black-eyed peas, along with some greens and cornbread, on New Year’s Day. I’m always on the lookout for a good recipe for black-eyed peas but it has to be vegetarian, too, which narrows the choices a bit.

    This year I found a wonderful recipe in an old cookbook (Passionate Vegetarian) that I had never tried before. It’s a stew that includes sweet potatoes and greens. It was yummy! By the way, I have no financial connection with the cookbook or author, it’s just one that happens to be on my bookshelf.

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