If you grew up in the South, or with a Southern grandmother then you can relate. I grew up with this belief, but did not know the real reason. My grandmother 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 remembering my Southern Heritage. "Black Eyed Peas: the Real Story," is interesting and should be told to everyone.
Its 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.
The story of THE BLACK EYED PEA being considered good luck relates directly back to Sherman 's Bloody March to the Sea in late 1864. It was called The Savannah Campaign and was led by Major General William T. Sherman. The Civil War campaign began on November 15, 1864, when Sherman 's troops marched from the captured city of Atlanta , Georgia , and ended at the port of Savannah on December 22, 1864. When the smoke cleared, the Southerners who had survived the onslaught came out of hiding. They found that the blue-belly aggressors had looted and stolen everything of value, and everything you could eat, including the livestock which was stolen or destroyed.
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 meal trucks. The Northern army had taken everything they could carry and eaten everything they could eat and left the people to die. But God stepped in and the devastated people of the South found that Sherman s blood-thirsty troops had left silos full of black eyed peas. At the time in the North, the lowly black eyed pea was only used to feed livestock. The Northern troops saw it as the least thing of value and a product that could not be eaten. Taking grain for their horses, livestock and other crops to feed themselves 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 been taken, eaten or destroyed. Southerners awoke to face a new year in this devastation and were facing massive starvation if not for the blessing God had provided of having the black eyed peas to eat.
How many prayers do you think went up from the Southerners for the Lord to protect them and give them something to eat?
From New Years Day 1866 forward, the tradition grew for true Southerners to eat black eyed peas on New Years Day.