New Year’s Luck Dishes

Happy 2015!  What kind of special foods do you eat on New Year’s Day?  If you’re like me and/or you have German ancestors, or you were raised in Lancaster PA, you probably ate pork and sauerkraut today.  We had ours.  Hannah absolutely adored the sauerkraut.  My hubby isn’t a sauerkraut fan, but he ate the pork and mashed potatoes.  While we were eating, he asked what the history of pork and sauerkraut on new year’s day is, and I just said it was lucky, which is what I grew up hearing.  But I decided to look into it a little bit.

So here’s an interesting tidbit.  Pigs root for food with their feet by moving their feet forward.  Chickens and turkeys, on the other hand, root backwards.  So having a pig on new year’s is kind of a superstitious way to signify moving forward.

From Lancaster Newspapers Online:

“According to food historian and cookbook author William Woys Weaver, the folk saying “The boar roots forward, the rooster scratches backward” preserves the ancient Gaulish or Celtic idea that an offering to Lugh, the god of creativity and good luck, “would insure a plentiful harvest in the coming year.”  The Germans adopted this pagan idea, which is where the Pennsylvania Dutch come from (“dutch” coming from the word “deutsch” which is “german”)

The Pennsylvania Dutch raised pigs even back in Germany because they didn’t take up much land to graze.  Also, you use so many parts of a pig, so there isn’t a lot of waste.  They would often butcher a pig around Christmas, so there was fresh meat available for the New Year’s feast.

Sauerkraut is a traditional German food that would have also been eaten at Christmas.  My grandma used to make sauerkraut for every special occasion.  I hated it when I was a kid.  Then out of nowhere I craved the heck out of it when I was pregnant, mixed with apple chicken sausage and mashed potatoes.  No wonder Hannah likes it – I ate it every third day or so all that summer.

Another interesting New Year’s tradition in the south is to eat Black Eyed Peas.  Apparently this comes from the story that the Union soldiers, when they were destroying the South during the Civil War thought the black eyed peas were cow food, and left them in the field.  So the South thought it was a stoke of luck.

I’m thinking maybe next year we’ll try pork, sauerkraut, and black eyed peas.

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