When they relocated to places like New York, St. Louis, and Chicago, Southern migrants brought with them the Watch Night service tradition (see yesterdays post for the etymology of this term) which was a well-attended New Years Eve praise and worship service where black folks recalled watching freedom come in followed by down-home southern cooking was available in abundance for free. Southern superstition established the tradition of serving hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas (cowpeas common to Igboland in West Africa) and rice, in addition to other traditional dishes depending on where the southern migrant community was from. Hoppin’ John was black-eyed peas and rice, beans, red peppers, and salt pork cooked to a stewlike consistency. It is probable that hoppin’ John evolved out of the rice and bean mixtures such as dab-a-dab (the rice, beans, vegetables, meat, palm oil, and pepper dish) that West African slaves survived on during the middle passage. Many southerners believed that the black-eyed peas symbolized coins and eating them insured economic prosperity for the coming year.