On New Years Day, cook black-eyed peas (usually with the bone from a Christmas ham), and eat at as many peas as the year (for example, 11 peas in 2011) for good luck.
Nicole learned it from her mother, because Nicoles fathers family had always done it, and when her parents married, they adopted the tradition. It has been maintained as custom through at least three generations. This is a southern ritual (Nicoles father is from Virginia), modified from pre-civil war Sephardic Jewish tradition.
There are records of Sephardic Jews eating black-eyed peas for luck on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Of course, the addition of pork was instituted somewhere along the line by non-Jewish southerners who adopted the practice. This is an indication of the American practice of blending old cultural customs to form new ones.
Annotation: also found in The Christian Science Monitor, Dec 30, 2010