The tradition of black-eyed peas is believed to have started over 1500 years ago as a form of bringing in good luck for the new year. Although families in the south typically coin this tradition, it was actually originally a Jewish custom. Around 500 A.D. they were used to help celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Then in the 1730s, the tradition was introduced to the south by way of Georgia. During the Civil War, many people in the North considered this vegetable, only suitable for animals. I believe this is why it didn't spread as fast in the North and ended up becoming a "southern" tradition.
Good luck is not the only thing that black-eyed peas are supposed to represent. Since the volume of beans expands, they are also supposed to symbolize that you are expanding your wealth in the new year. This is also why collard greens are typically eaten. The green is also supposed to represent money.
One popular saying goes, "Eat poor on New Year's, and eat fat the rest of the year". Happy New Year everyone!
Does your family have any New Year's Traditions? Leave me a comment!