My family always eats black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's for luck and prosperity. (BE peas symbolize coins and collards symbolize dollar bills, so I'm told.) Its one of the few things I still do from my childhood.
I can't tell whether it is just a Black thing, a Southern thing or what, but can those of you who know this tradition tell me: do the beans have to be black eyed peas? Am I utterly fucked in 2014 if I use one of the four other types of dried beans I have in the house or do I have to go out in this freakin' cold to hunt up the perfect lucky bean?
ETA: Just for fun, here are my two favorite black eyed pea recipes. Neither is "real," as my Dad would say because they don't involve ham hocks, but very delicious and particularly good if one of your New Year's resolutions is to not eat so many things like ham hocks.
Madhur Jaffrey's Black Eyed Peas with Herbs (these are excellent with greens)
I'm a lazy shit when it comes to cornbread, so I just use a box of Jiffy with additions.
New ETA: Since one of my recurring issues is separating myself from the intense needs and desires of my family, I will bravely NOT eat traditional Black Eyed peas. I am instead making this mock cassoulet using heirloom YELLOW EYED BEANS (so I can't break entirely) I bought at the farmer's market with a combination of Duck sausages and Brocoli Rabe pork sausages. I heighten the flavor of this dish by starting with a basic mirepoix before putting it in the oven. But it is delish either way.