For as long as I can remember, I've had black eyed peas and cabbage for lunch on New Year's Day.  My grandmother always told me that it was "for good luck" and "money." Well, I can't deny that I've experienced many things over the years that could be deemed "good luck", but the "money" part of the equation apparently hasn't kicked in yet.

So, exactly where did the tradition begin? Researchers say the idea of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s started around the time of the Civil War.

At that time, peas were considered only fit for animals.  Certainly not the meal of choice for Union soldiers.  This meant that those peas were all the food that was available to Confederate soldiers and Southern families.  And those families knew just how lucky they were to have a meal of peas cooked with a big slab of salt pork during the cold winter.

Other sources trace the eating of peas back to the Egyptians. At the time of the Pharaohs it was considered a sign of humility before the gods to eat such a lowly food.

So what about the cabbage? Most people will tell you they eat cabbage or collard greens to insure prosperity. The green leaves represent money. The real truth is closer to this. Cabbage and collard greens are late crops. That means, especially in the south, they would be plentiful and ready for harvest in early January. Fresh vegetables like this made for a great nutritious meal during the hard winter months.

The ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans ate cabbage. They ate it to ward off disease and aid digestion. If you’ve ever eaten cabbage you know about that digestion part.

So start soaking those peas and grab some fresh cabbage or collards and make a big pan of cornbread and let's all prepare for a fantastic 2016!

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