It is possible that the tradition arrived in america with sephardic jews who first arrived in georgia in the 1730s. According to a portion of the talmud written around 500 a d it was jewish custom at the time to eat black eyed peas in celebration of rosh hashanah the jewish new year which occurs in the fall.
Black eyed peas were also given to enslaved people as were most other traditional southern new year s foods and evolved through the years to be considered soul food one variation of the superstition says that black eyed peas were all the enslaved people in the south had to celebrate with on the first day of january 1863.
Black eyed peas on new years. Tradition dictates that eating black eyed peas on new year s will bring luck and good fortune. Another legend holds that slaves ate black eyed peas on january 1 1863 the day the emancipation proclamation went into effect because they were all they had. Eating black eyed peas on new year s day has been considered good luck for at least 1 500 years.
This according to the story is why black eyed peas have been eaten on every new year s day since.