Pic of the day – Blackeyed Peas and Greens


Yesterday and today I heard about a few New Year’s Day traditions that
were new to me, via Twitter and Facebook. Social media is a great way
to learn about other cultures and places. One previous year an online
friend tipped me off to a webcam in a Zen temple in Japan and I
listened to the New Year bells all day. That was lovely. Today, the
new things I heard were (1) it is lucky to have someone come into your
home before you leave it on New Year’s Day, and (2) it’s lucky to eat
blackeyed peas and greens. With #2 there was some variation about
whether the blackeyed peas should have ham jowl, bacon, ham, or go
meatless, and whether the greens were exclusively collard greens or
whether other greens are acceptable.

Oddly enough, we ended up not going to my son’s drum lesson as planned
because we couldn’t raise the teacher to verify if class was on or
off, and so we did end up having someone enter the house before we
left. That tradition really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It
sounds kind of like musical chairs, with someone guaranteed to lose.
While it doesn’t make sense to me to stay home until someone visits,
it does explain those places that have a tradition of running around
from house to house visiting everyone right after midnight and BEFORE
you go to bed. That shares the luck pretty fairly all around the town.

Sometimes I think the book Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches” sank into my brain perhaps too much. I
like to look at traditions and try to figure out logical origins for
them. While the “don’t leave the house” tradition doesn’t make sense
to me, the blackeyed peas really works beautifully.

Many of the New Year’s traditions I’ve encountered have focused on
drawing wealth & love & luck to you during the coming year. Most of
them have done this by indulging in items or acts that symbolically
represent those concepts — eating lots of grapes fast, cakes with
money in them, shortbread stuffed with butter, rice, doughnuts, honey,
kissing someone, rings, telling fortunes, you get the idea. While I’ve
been dutifully and playfully going along with these much of my life,
they never really did much for me. I kind of get the idea, but I’ve
never known it to make a difference and am fairly dubious about the
whole idea.

So when I was pondering the idea of blackeyed peas and greens, what I
thought was along the lines of this. “Hmmm, pretty much everyone can
afford beans, peas, things like that. Even folk who can’t afford ham
often have a bit of bacon drippings saved up. The greens were often
bitter greens that folk could pick wild. This is stuff that you can
celebrate with and not need to be rich or pretending you are rich.” I
like this. I like having a holiday tradition that doesn’t mean
breaking the bank. I like the idea of being inclusive, having a
holiday tradition that can be achieved equally well by all classes. I
like the idea of attracting wealth by being FRUGAL (nice way to start
the year, eh?). I like having a holiday tradition that is respectful
of others who perhaps have less, that allows and embraces the dignity
of those who don’t have as much.

I’ve been there. Right now, I spend more on food, but I spent a lot of
years doing without and pinching to get by. Lately, I’ve been cleaning
cupboards and seeing what is getting old, needs to get used up, is
about to expire, and making sure things do get used. I’m in a thrifty
frame of mind these days.

Anyway, I set a pot of blackeyed peas and crowder peas to simmer,
chopped some pork that had been in the freezer too long, threw in some
bacon drippings, onions, rice … Made a ton. Invited folk over. Had
the blackeyed peas with greens, corn relish, homemade chutney,
biscuits. Dirt cheap dinner, and we were all completely stuffed. I
even sent leftovers with folk. Still have so much I’ll be eating this
for at least a week.