Peas and Prosperity for the New Year!

Wishing you all a potful of good health, prosperity and happiness in the New Year! Family tradition insists I hedge the monetary odds by eating a dish of Hoppin’ John, a black-eyed pea dish typically served in the American South on New Year’s Day. (Mama told me her mama said it’s a holdout from the depression years.)

For a triple whammy, Mama would serve the dish with collard greens, the color of paper currency, and cornbread, the color of gold.  Earliest memory recalls my tiny fingers plucking out the peas, leaving behind the peppers: “Peas for pennies,” my dad would laugh, handing me a real penny, driving home his point. (Any of you who’ve read THE PROMISE KITCHEN, might remember one of my protagonist’s blogging about this dish.)

Pickled Herring for Luck!

Not only do I insist my immediate family eat at least one bite of this regional specialty, but I also hand-deliver a small Tupperware container of the pea salad, festooned with a ribbon, to friends that could use some luck.

Krystyna, a neighbor from Poland and inspiration behind one of my characters in THE WELCOME HOME DINER, gifts me, in kind, silver-skinned pickled herring.

She tells me that eating herring on New Year’s Day will provide a year of abundance. An abundance of love? Good health? Happiness? Krystyna thinks, considering the silvery color of the skin, it means money. I’ve covered the money base with the peas, and we’re all aware that money can’t buy the things that matter. I’m hoping herring brings good health and happiness. If so, my bases are loaded. Then again. The Chinese eat long noodles during the Chinese New Year. Long, unbroken noodles represent a long, happy life. I’ll throw in a plate of spaghetti, just in case!

Do you have a lucky charm in your pocket? My lucky number is 6 and has been since I was 6. (Certainly not 666, just a simple 6, thank you very much.) I’ve always known (for a fact) that bad luck comes in threes. I’m careful around mirrors and concerned when a black cat crosses my path.

Are you––like me, my family and Krystyna–– superstitious? Do you have lucky foods you eat on a special day…watch your back on Friday the 13th…refuse to walk under ladders or have a lucky number? Perhaps (unlike yours truly), you are sane, balanced and rooted in reality. Neurotic minds want to know.

BTW: Here’s the recipe, in case you need to rush to the grocery store. No time? A bite of canned black-eyed peas should do the trick.

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2 Responses to Peas and Prosperity for the New Year!

  1. Alison Ragsdale says:

    In Scotland, it’s traditional to begin the new year with a steak pie – basically a rich meat and veg stew, under a cap of the puffiest puff-pastry you can imagine. I think it’s richness is supposed to ensure that your family will not know hunger in the coming year. We seldom do it anymore but your post is a good reminder of old traditions. Thank you! Oh, and my lucky day is Friday 13th! Happy new year.

    • Peggy says:

      That’s so interesting, Alison! And all that richness under the puffiest puff pastry imaginable–well, I’ll trade you a dish of peas for that!!! Happy New Decade!!! I thought Friday the 13ths spelled danger?

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