Someone needs to stock up on black-eyed peas

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I was told by a friend last week that there was a blackeyed pea shortage at New Year’s. Blackeyed peas were not to be found at either grocery store in Demopolis, he said with authority. However, officials at Food World and Piggly Wiggly denied Tuesday that there was a lack of blackeyed peas in stock for the holiday.

After doing research about the superstitions on New Year’s I can understand a certain hysteria on the part of people in these tyring times.

Eating blackeyed peas has been a tradition since the Civil War. During the battle of Vicksburg the town was under siege for 40 days, and the residents had to eat blackeyed or "cow peas."

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One must eat these lentils on the first day of the year. From what I can gather, dried, frozen or canned "peas" will do. Ever since the days of the Pharoah, eating some modest food is a symbol of luck and good fortune.

Ham hocks, hoppin’ john or collards are also part of the recipe for success in the coming year. Pork is considered a sign of good luck at the New Year, because a hog can not look backwards.

Blackeyed peas are considered by some to represent silver coins and cornbread represents gold. Placing a wrapped piece of cabbage into your wallet will ensure it will never be empty throughout the coming year.

Don’t eat chicken on New Year’s Day or you will be scratching for money. With the American economy going in the dumper these days you can see why someone would want to hedge their bets with every bit of luck avaialble.

In deep parts of South Louisiana they swear by. "Rice for riches and peas for peace."

Since I didn’t have blackeyed peas on New Year’s and many in the area may have lucked out due to the rumor of a shortage, I am looking for a way to compensate and still save my year.

Actually if you look at all the superstitions about New Year’s, from cleaning and sweeping and "first footing," I may be in such deep trouble I should just stay indoors this year.

It used to be bad enough to just try to stick to resolutions for at least the first few weeks, now I have to worry about a cloud over my head because the lack of a pea for lunch.

Maybe a compassionate reader out there knows of a way I can better my chances this year through some other charm or deed. A kind letter of help would be appreciated.