Judy, being a Northerner from New Jersey, asked me how Black Eyed Peas came to mean good luck. I told her this story and, strange as it seems, I also received the below in an email. I have heard this story all my life (uh…until now) and though you of lesser knowledge on the subject would like to enlighten yourself to the truth…as told by traditional stories.
History of the Black Eyed Pea Tradition
"The Real Story is much more interesting and has gone untold in fear that feelings would be hurt. It’s a story of war, the most brutal and bloody war, military might and power pushed upon civilians, women, children and elderly. Never seen as a war crime, this was the policy of the greatest nation on earth trying to maintain that status at all costs. An unhealed wound remains in the hearts of some people of the Southern states even today; on the other hand, the policy of slavery has been an open wound that has also been slow to heal, but is okay to talk about.
The story of THE BLACK EYED PEA being considered good luck relates directly back to Sherman’s Bloody March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign and was led by Major General William T. Sherman. The Civil War campaign began on 11/15/64 when Sherman’s troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, and ended at the port of Savannah on 12/22/1864.
When the smoke cleared, the Southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found that the blue belly aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value. And everything you could eat, including all livestock, was gone. Death and destruction were everywhere. While in hiding, few had enough to eat, and starvation was now upon the survivors.
There was no international aid, no Red Cross meal trucks. The Northern army had taken everything they could carry and eaten everything they could eat. But they couldn’t take it all. The devastated people of the South found for some unknown reason that Sherman’s bloodthirsty troops had left silos full of black eyed peas.
At the time in the North, the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed stock. The northern troops saw it as the thing of least value. Taking grain for their horses and livestock and other crops to feed themselves, they just couldn’t take everything. So they left the black eyed peas in great quantities assuming it would be of no use to the survivors, since all the livestock it could feed had either been taken or eaten.
Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation and were facing massive starvation if not for the good luck of having the black eyed peas to eat. From New Year’s Day 1866 forward, the tradition grew to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck."
-- Pass the peas, Please!
Have a blessed day!!
Oh! And you may wonder about having greens on New Year’s Day, too. I haven’t heard a story on this, but I think it had to do with eating all those peas and what they do to the digestive track. But having everything destroyed, all they had to wipe with was the old greens that the Yankee’s didn’t like. Spinach, Collards, Turnip, or Mustard greens were all they had.
What? That doesn’t make sense to you?