EATING BLACK EYED PEAS ON NEW YEAR'S DAY - THE HISTORY
If you grew up in the south or southwestern parts of this country, then you can relate. I grew up with this belief, but did not know the real reason. My mother always served black eyed peas on New Year's Day, and she said it would bring good luck in the New Year. I've carried this tradition forward, but never knew the reason behind it. It became a way of remembrance of my mother and grandmother.
Black Eyed Peas "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 in US history. 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 as the media never ceases to talk about it.
The story of THE BLACK EYED PEA being considered good luck relates directly back to Union General Sherman's Bloody March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign and was lead by MGen William T. Sherman. This Civil War campaign began on Nov. 15, 1864, when
troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta,
Georgia and ended at the on 12/22/1864. When the smoke cleared,
the southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found
that the union aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value, and
everything you could eat, including all livestock. port of Savannah
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, no meal trucks. The Union 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
bloodthirsty troops had left silos full of black eyed peas. Sherman
At the time in the north, the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed stock. The northern troops saw it as a 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.
In another Southern tradition, black-eyed peas was a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans who had previously been enslaved, and who after the Civil War were officially freed on New Years Day.
From New Years Day 1866, forward, the tradition has grown to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.
I will have my Black Eyed Peas this New Year's Day.