And I didn't understand half of it except that it's an old old tradition.The "good luck" traditions of eating black-eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, are recorded in the Babylonian Talmud (compiled ~500 CE), Horayot 12A: "Abaye [d. 339 CE] said, now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see qara (bottle gourd), rubiya (black-eyed peas, Arabic lubiya), kartei (leeks), silka (either beets or spinach), and tamrei (dates) on your table on the New Year." However, the custom may have resulted from an early mistranslation of the Aramaic word rubiya (fenugreek).A parallel text in Kritot 5B states that one should eat these symbols of good luck. The accepted custom (Shulhan Aruh Orah Hayim 583:1, 16th century, the standard code of Jewish law and practice) is to eat the symbols. This custom is followed by Sephardi and Israeli Jews to this day.In the United States, the first Sephardi Jews arrived in Georgia in the 1730s, and have lived there continuously since. The Jewish practice was apparently adopted by non-Jews around the time of the American Civil War.In the Southern United States, the peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, ham bones, fatback, or hog jowl), diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavoredvinegar.
Another article from The Houston Press Blog:
Purists know that the traditional New Year's Day meal also features collard greens, stewed tomatoes, and cornbread. The peas, which swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens represent money; the tomatoes bring health; and the cornbread is that sweet, sweet gold. The catch, of course, is that the black-eyed peas are the luck staple -- eating the greens without the peas, for example, will not do the trick, and instead bring fireballs, locusts, and acid rain upon thee. Or something like that.
Add a shiny penny to the pot just before serving, and whoever receives the serving with the penny receives the best luck of all.Again, I'm NOT taking any chances this year, I've alway's liked salsas and I made this one this morning which should cover all my lucky bases.
Ok, I made up the symbolism, but it can't hurt to be too careful!