The informant is from South Carolina and recounts a New Years tradition from the region.
T: On New Year’s Day, in the South, everybody cooks black eyed peas and collard greens. The back eyed peas are good for money. The black eyed peas represent the change and the collard greens is the cash. And that’s how much money, and it signifies that you’re going to get money all year long. So everybody cooks that on New Years. That’s just a staple. You go to someone’s house on New Year’s Day? That’s going to be cooking in the pot. Mama would cook that every New Years, no matter what.
As I’ve collected folklore about New Years traditions, there are a lot of traditions that are centered around food. There is another folklore I collected from Peru that revolves around food and prosperity.
It’s interesting that even though black eyed peas and collard greens are given a special status on New Years, they are a very common food in the everyday diet of people from the Southern United States. It’s just for this one day they are considered special representations of wealth.