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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Southerners look for luck through black-eyed peas

The Japanese have kuromame (sweet black beans) to protect against illness and misfortune. In the American South, people turn to black-eyed peas to do the trick.

Recipes vary greatly from place to place, — many states boast their own "caviar" — but however they're prepared, black-eyed peas are believed to bring safety and good luck in the new year. According to one popular saying, it's "rice for riches and peas for peace."

Hoppin' John, a popular way preparing the beans, is associated with the old Scottish tradition of First Footing, which is based on the belief that the coming year's fortune could be determined by the first person to walk through the entrance of one's house on New Year's Day. New brides, new mothers and others considered "lucky" would bless their friends and families by "first-footing" through their doorways and would be welcomed with generous helpings of Hoppin' John and other delicacies.

Black-eyed peas are often served as a symbolic meal with greens (dollars) and cornbread (gold). In at least one recipe, a dime is added to the peas for extra good fortune.