New Year's is full of traditions: the ball drop in Time's Square, champagne, fireworks, and midnight kisses, to name a few. But some cultures have New Year's Day traditions that revolve around food, and the Southern United States is no exception. I am a southern girl; I was born and raised in North Carolina. However, my parents are from the Midwest, so I'd never really heard about these "lucky" southern New Year's food traditions until recently. I became curious and decided to do a little digging to find out how to do New Year's like a true Southerner. 

1. Black Eyed Peas

The tradition of eating black eyed peas in the South dates back to the Civil War. Black eyed peas were used as animal food and were supposedly one of the few things left when the Union troops raided the Confederate army's food supply. The Confederate troops believed they were lucky the peas were not taken and were able to survive the winter. 

So why eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day? On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. It is rumored that the slaves only had black eyed peas to celebrate with. Since then, the food has become a New Year's staple, as eating it is said to bring good luck for the year. 

2. Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John is a dish made of rice and black eyed peas that is one of the New Year's Day food traditions in the South. The name supposedly comes from a crippled man who sold rice and black eyed peas on the streets of Charleston in the 1800s. There are a few other theories about where the name comes from, but no one knows for sure what this dish is called Hoppin' John. Like black eyed peas, Hoppin' John is said to bring good luck in the new year.

3. Collard Greens

The color green is often associated with money, so it's no surprise that collard greens represent wealth. In other places, cabbage is eaten on New Year's. Cabbage was traditionally eaten for its health benefits, but the South eats greens on New Year's because that's the crop grown in late fall. Rumor has it that each bite of greens will bring you $1000 in the new year.

4. Corn Bread

Corn bread symbolizes gold. True Southern-style cornbread is made with very little flour and sugar. Back in the day, Southerners didn't have the means to get goods like flour and sugar. Want sweetness? Pour some molasses on it.

5. Pork

Pork is a staple in the South. After all, we're known for our barbecue. Pigs symbolize progress because they "root forward." Pork is versatile—it can be a roast, chop, barbecue, etc. Any form of pork works for New Year's, but the traditional meal is pork roast. Pork was commonly eaten in the winter back in the earlier times. If a family had a fat and meaty pig, they could make it through the cold, harsh winter. 

6. Sauerkraut

This German dish is often eaten with pork on New Year's. The primary ingredient in sauerkraut is cabbage, which represents wealth. It's also thought that the long shreds of sauerkraut represent a long life. 

7. Pot Likker Soup

Pot likker soup is made from the broth of collard greens. The broth is considered the most nutritious part. This soup also represents wealth, like collard greens. It's just a different way to eat them!

8. Hog Jowl

Hog jowl is made from pig's cheek and symbolizes health, prosperity, and progress. Health in this case means survival. In some cases, a pig was the difference between life and death in the winter. A variation of this is hog jowl bacon.

Black eyed peas, greens, sauerkraut, cornbread, and pork—all of these are perfect to start off the new year right. If I were you, I'd eat these delicious foods year-round. Whoever said these could only be enjoyed on New Year's Day?