Folklore links black eyed pea tradition to Vicksburg - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Folklore links black eyed pea tradition to Vicksburg

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VICKSBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Everyone wants good luck for the new year. A lot of people think the food they pile on their fork can help them with that wish. One of those tasty traditions is black eyed peas.

Food folklore links black eyed peas to the river city of Vicksburg. Some say they wouldn't have made it to your plate today, if it weren't for the desperate measure of folks during the civil war.

"As the union troops moved to surround Vicksburg, the supply lines from northeast, south and west were cut off," detailed Executive Director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Bill Seratt.

The people of Vicksburg weren't left with many choices for food.

"Cow peas as they were known were fodder for cattle, they found that they could boil and eat those peas and that when mixed with a little pork meat and some greens, it made a very delicious meal," Seratt said.

So, that takes care of why folks say we eat black eyed peas in the South but do you know why we eat them on New Year's Day?

Brittney Archie loaded her new year lunch plate with the vegetable.

"I always do it. I don't know why. But my great grandmother always made them. It's a tradition. And she always told us that we had to come over and eat black eyed peas for the new year to bring good luck," Archie said.

The owner of Pooh's Deli and Restaurant in Clinton doesn't believe in luck but he makes sure to include it on the holiday menu.

"Mom knows best. Mom says eat black eyed peas they're going to make you lucky. So...," said owner Lakoma Mason.

The origin of that promise for good fortune takes us back to Vicksburg, more than 100 years ago.

"They had found a way to feed themselves from the cow peas so as the siege ended and as the new year came they put more and more trust and faith in the legend of good luck and black eyed peas," explained Seratt.

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