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Many Southerners and African Americans eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Down South, African Americans often ate them because they were cheap and filling. Some believed they offered hope of freedom or prosperity in the coming year. Many still eat them on New Year’s Day to recall how far God has brought us from the time peas were all we had. Recalling past struggles keeps us humble and grateful. That’s one reason God told ancient Israel never to forget their slavery in Egypt. At Passover time, they were to eat bitter herbs and bread without yeast for seven days to remind them of their hasty exodus from Egypt but also of the grief they suffered from Egyptians. By recalling their past hardships, they could appreciate God’s deliverance and be grateful. God wanted them to be so grateful that they would commit to love and obey Him. There’s a truth here for all of us. Just as black-eyed peas remind African Americans of their bitter history, and the Jewish Passover reminded Jews of their harsh past, so all of us now free from our past bondage to sin, can celebrate our liberation. New Year’s Day can be a time to reflect on all the good things God has done for us. It can also be a time to rededicate ourselves to fulfill God’s purpose for us in this coming year.
I read that African Americans originally ate black eyed peas on January 1st not to celebrate the new year but to celebrate the end of slavery which also was on January 1st.