Tradition of Lucky Peas

I could get run out of the South for this, but I opted to not have black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Whaaaaat?! That is right. I did it…or I didn’t do it. However you want to look at it, I skipped the peas. I had my family skip with me, and the only one who noticed was my husband, whom I had told earlier that morning. “Umm, I didn’t buy any peas” I said. “Oh, you didn’t? Okay” he said. That was pretty much the end of it, but I did go on to explain. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t just want to keep doing something that I wasn’t even sure where the tradition started or why we even participated. Other than it being an “old wives’ tale” and a long-time tradition, he didn’t know why the peas were supposed to be lucky either.

I did some searches around the tradition of eating our lucky peas on the 1st of the new year. The results were inconclusive as there were different stories on when and where the tradition started. The net of all the stories is that eating the peas brings you a good year. Some say you have to have greens and peas or the luck won’t stick. Seriously? To me, it sounded like an excuse to indulge in some good soul food. Who really needs an excuse to do that?

Faith versus Tradition

This probably seems like a harmless silly little thing that doesn’t matter much, but for some, it’s a serious tradition to keep. To the serious, not having your peas means you are asking for a bad year. However, I think this tradition is also something we’ve got to question when it comes to being a person of faith and choosing where you put your faith.

Isaiah 42:8 – I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols. (NLT)

Do I really want to make an idol out of food?

1 Timothy 4:7 — Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. (NIV)

Don’t get me wrong, I still like black-eyed peas.

I like black-eyed peas over cornbread. I like them with rice. I like them mixed with some sort of greens (mustard, collard, or even kale). I like them with pieces of smoked ham or smoked turkey. Yes, I really like my black-eyed peas, but I know where my blessings really come from. Thankfully, it is God who made black-eyed peas possible. So, I’m not trying to swing to a distorted extreme that forbids the peas. 1 Timothy 4 warns of such distortions:

1 Timothy 4:3-5 — They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer. (NLT)

Black-eyed peas are still permissible for eating; however, I don’t want to be disrespectful of God by putting the created thing above the Creator.

I’ve got high expectations for the new year. I’m believing God for big blessings, and the ability to be a big blessing. So, I am reminded of what Jesus said.

John 15: 5 — I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

I recognize where my faith and trust resides. It is not in things and not in traditions. I must cut loose from old traditional thinking I see as a personal hindrance in conflict with experiencing a new level of faith and deeper relationship with God.

Psalm 119:11 — I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (NLT)

Question: Do you have some traditions, superstitions, or “old wives tales” to re-evaluate? What old ways of thinking do you plan to discard in this new year?



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