Ringing in the New Year by eating good luck is as easy as preparing a pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to share amongst friends and family. It is a long-standing southern tradition originating in the low country of Georgia and South Carolina. The first recipe of the classic “Hoppin’ John” dish was made with bacon, black-eyed peas and rice in a cookbook entitled The Carolina Housewife in 1847.
It is thought that the tradition of eating the black-eyed pea dish, known as Hoppin’ John, on New Year’s day comes from the belief that the pea looks like a coin, which can represent prosperity in the coming year. In some families, a coin was actually placed under the bowl to ensure good fortune. Often the New Year’s dish is paired with collard greens and cornbread. The greens bring additional good luck because it is green like money. The cornbread has the same wealth effect because it is yellow, like the color of gold. Eat all three and you will be brimming with good luck and good fortune all year, so the lore goes.
Some wonder where the name “Hoppin’ John” came from. The most plausible explanation is that it comes from the Americanization of the French Creole term for pigeon peas, a legume similar to black-eyed peas, which is “pois a pigeon,” and is pronounced “pwah peeJon.” According to some, this may have sounded like “Hoppin’ John” to English speaking Southerners, which is why we use this name now.
Creating good food to begin the New Year definitely starts you out on the right foot, regardless of your belief on how to promote good luck and prosperity in the 365 days ahead. You can’t beat homemade food with fresh ingredients for a healthy beginning.
Here are a few recipes you can use to enhance or build your own New Year’s Day tradition to start your New Year on a healthy, hearty and happy footing–
For a couple of examples of Hoppin’ John recipes:
For the Greens:
For the Cornbread:
Happy Healthy New Year!