For New Years Dinner, everyone in my family must eat collard greens and black eyed peas. Collard greens symbolize money, and therefore promote a good financial start to the New Year. I dont quite remember what the black eyed peas represent, but we always eat them every year.
This subject in particular had a lot of different customs revolving around New Years Day. He said that this meal was served every year for New Years dinner because it helped to promote a good start to the year. He explained the importance and symbolization of the collard greens as representing money, and thus a great start to the New Year. He said that black-eyed peas were also served every year but that he couldnt remember what they stood for exactly.
There are many different rituals centered around the New Year, and although this one seems new, I believe that there are many more like it. The whole idea behind the New Year rituals is to make the next year the best in every way possible. I think that this dinner represents just that. The food is meant to represent money, which is a common theme among many New Years traditions. Money is often wished or hoped for, and symbolized for good luck in many different occasions. My guess for the black-eyed peas is that they symbolize another good luck charm for the New Year, something along the lines of good health. I think that the most important part of this tradition is that it is repeated every year and that the family comes together for this celebration. New Years Day in regard to American households is not considered the most family-oriented holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, therefore this ritual makes it possible for the family to celebrate the past year together and start a new one together as well.