Found this page to reference a tradition I’ve taken part of since learning it from my good southern friends, the Slades.
Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day
Blackeyed peas have long been a tradition for the New Year’s table. They supposedly bring good luck for the coming year, and eating them shows “humility”. Some Southerners have been rumored to eat one pea for each day of the year to insure good fortune! They are a humble food, therefore, eating them represents humility. The taste of blackeyed peas are unlike other beans, and unless you’ve grown up eating them, as my husband did, you may find the taste a bit “earthy”. In our house, we cook blackeyed peas with ham hocks, or a ham bone, and water. That’s it. No fooling with the recipe is allowed! However, I do have several recipes you can use if you prefer a spicy version. They make a nice side dish served with cornbread, ham and greens, if your family enjoys a Southern style meal. The spicy versions are good served with fajitas, tamales or similar dishes.
I’ve always made mine fairly plain, although I do add a few varieties of fresh pepper, sometimes a bit of salt, and often a finely chopped onion.
Now then… I need to go dish up another bowl before the day is officially over… no sense taking chances with fate!