There’s nothing I like better than a tradition mixed with a little superstition. I personally can’t celebrate the incoming New Year without the memory of my grandfather’s voice proclaiming, “We have to have pork and sauerkraut or this year’s going to be an unlucky one.” As a kid, I had no idea what he was getting at, but the tradition has persisted in my family. After all, who doesn’t want the coming year to be a fortunate one?
It was only recently that I was able to figure out what all the superstition was about. It’s a combination of Pennsylvania Dutch and German roots. While it has a lot to do with the way the harvest [of cabbage aka sauerkraut] and butchering seasons fell around the holidays, it also has a fun idea behind it.
The lore is that a pig roots forward in search of food while a chicken scratches back. In other words, it’s an instruction to look forward to the New Year rather than back at the old one. According to my grandmother, eating any poultry for the New Year will cause all your happiness to fly away with the feathers. The trick behind getting everyone to eat sauerkraut is that it’s green like cash money. [I’ve never found sauerkraut to be green unless it’s gone off so I think that one is more of my grandfather getting us kids to eat our odd-smelling vegetables.]
So, here in Pennsylvania, our New Year’s Celebration has a unique smell. Whether you can get behind our tradition or have a fun one of your own, have a Happy New Year!