Some say they're good fortune. Others say eating collard greens and black-eyed peas bring prosperity and wealth for the New Year.
"I'm just hoping for a blessed year for everyone in 2016," said Linda Segraves of Dawsonville.
Gordon Pirkle, owner of Dawsonville's historic Pool Room, is fine with either explanation, but he knows the real truth behind the New Year's tradition.
"They're just good," he said as he refilled a pan of deep fried hog jowls on the buffet line at the downtown diner for lunch on New Year's Day.
Using the same Pirkle family recipe that's been passed down from generation to generation , the Pool Room crew served up more than a thousand lucky meals with diners from near and far waiting on the buffet to open as early as 11 a.m.
"It's our tradition," said Regina Disharoon, who was ringing in the New Year with her husband and friends.
It's also a tradition for Pirkle's family to meet for lunch at the restaurant on New Year's Day.
"Daddy called and said it was already packed, the most he's seen here so early," said daughter Hayley Garrett.
Pirkle started the tradition more than 30 years ago, when he opened the restaurant on the holiday with the intention of cooking the southern staples for family and his staff.
He said the crowd continues to grow bigger each year.
"Look at how many people are here," he said.