Traveling this year on New Year’s Day created a bit of a dilemma for me. When would I make our traditional black-eyed peas and cornbread?
Both my wife and myself have family roots in the south. The tradition is that on New Year’s Day we need to eat black-eyed peas and cornbread to have a lucky year. My wife’s side also includes cabbage. I don’t like cabbage, so I follow my family’s practices.
I have heard different explanations as to how this tradition started. Two of them go back to the Civil War. Another credits a marketing campaign that started in Texas. I don’t know what really started this tradition.
The truth is that I don’t believe that eating black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Year’s Day is going to make 2018 lucky. I follow this tradition because it connects me to my heritage. It helps me to remember who I am, and where I come from.
I use the reasoning for the Christian traditions that I follow. Almost every day I wear a cross. I love receiving Communion. Gathering with other Christians on a regular basis to worship God is important to me. I look forward to special Christian days/seasons and corresponding worship services. This includes: Ash Wednesday; Lent; Passion/Palm Sunday; Good Friday; Easter; Advent; Christmas Eve; and Christmas. None of these traditions alone make me into a Christian. All of them, though, help to remind me who I am, and where I come from. This impacts my thoughts, words, and actions.
Traditions play a critical role in my life. I try to never force, or coerce, others to practice the traditions that are important to me. I do try to invite people to join me. The tradition just might become important to them, too. By the way, do you have any interest in knowing how to make black-eyed peas (spoiler alert, I mostly follow the directions on the bag).
Your brother on the journey, Mark
Special note: This article was written while flying on the plane. It felt kind of lucky.