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Here are the stories behind your favorite New Year's superstitions

Traditions like kissing at midnight, eating black-eyed peas have storied pasts

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As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, many people follow what, from the outside, may look to be odd traditions in order to bring luck and prosperity in the new year.

These traditions are often rooted deep within the cultures in which they are practiced. As it turns out, many traditions we celebrate in American and other English-speaking countries also have storied pasts. 

Before you celebrate this New Year's Eve, make sure to take a look at the list below to find out just why you may be so superstitious about the changing of the year.

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Kissing someone at midnight

Almost every depiction of New Year's Eve in popular media shows a character worrying about who they will kiss come midnight. Many believe the ceremonial kiss will entail luck and love for the coming year. It turns out that the tradition has been established by a long history of lip-locking, which traces far back into English and German folklore.

According to a USA Today article from 2014, a belief held by many cultures was that the first person you encountered at the beginning of a year would determine the entire coming year's luck. Both the English and the Germans reportedly took this a step further by kissing the first person they saw in the new year.

Eventually, many people began to selectively choose their first encounter to make sure it was someone they liked. Many also say that couples who don't kiss as the clock strikes midnight will have a doomed romantic future, while those who do will be fruitful in love.

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White rabbits

Many British people will all be chanting the same thing the second the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve: "White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits." Saying the phrase or simply "rabbits" three times in a row is said to bring good luck if it's the first thing said in a new month. Jan. 1 not only starts a new month, but a whole new year, which is why the superstition is said to be extra potent on New Year's Day.

According to British newspaper The Guardian, the tradition's origins are not entirely clear. One writer suggests the saying came from World War II fighter pilots' superstitions. They believed saying "white rabbit" before anything else every morning would protect them in the air.

Rabbits have also been viewed as "lucky" for quite some time. During a National Public Radio interview in 2013, radio host Martha Barnette said the creatures have been associated with good luck for over 2,000 years, whether in the form of a rabbit's foot charm or otherwise.

Brits aren't the only ones who have relied on the thrice-named animal over the years. In the same interview, Barnette said American comedian Gilda Radner and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt were both reported to be devout repeaters of some variation of the phrase at the beginning of every month.

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Black-eyed peas, collard greens and pork

Perhaps one of the most well-known New Year's traditions, black-eyed peas, collard greens and pork are considered staples of New Year's Day cuisine in the southern U.S. According to travel site Tripsavvy.com, the tradition has many possible origin stories. 

One suggestion is that black-eyed peas and salted pork were the only foods left after Union soldiers raided a Confederate food supply. The soldiers ate what they had for the new year and considered themselves lucky.

Another explanation is that the peas have been traditional staples in African-American cooking ever since Africans were brought to America through the slave trade. The peas were eaten on the first day of January 1863 to celebrate the day that the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

Some people believe the black-eyed peas should be cooked with a dime or penny. Whichever diner gets the coin in their bowl is said to be extra lucky. The collard greens and pork, in addition to complementing each other flavor-wise, are said to bring money and health and success, respectively.