why do you eat pork and sauerkraut on new years

There s nothing quite like New Year s Day in a Pennsylvania household as the smell of fermented cabbage emanates through the kitchen as you try to nurse your gnarly hangover. And if you re not from Pennsylvania Dutch land, you may have missed out or lucked out, depending on your point of view on this long-standing tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year s Day to ensure good luck in the coming year. I grew up in one of those smelly New Year s Day households in central PA. And I was surprised to learn that people from elsewhere, including many from Philadelphia, had no idea that eating slow-cooked pork with a side of stinky cabbage was a New Year s Day tradition. The dish is a German custom that was brought overВby the Pennsylvania Dutch who settled largely in the central and southcentral portions of the state. William Woys Weaver, a food historian and author based in Chester County, said winter butchering often took place in the months just before Christmas or New Year s, so celebratory meals happened around those times with a feast of roasted fresh pork. Sauerkraut was often added to the meal as a side dish because fall is the height of cabbage harvesting. To make sauerkraut, at-home cooks would pickle the cabbage to turn it into the soft side dish and, largely, to preserve it before refrigeration had become a commonality.


Unless you ve brined your own cabbage before (kudos if you have! ) you probably aren t aware: It actually takes between six and eight weeks of soaking the stuff before the cabbage turns to full-on kraut. From the peak fall harvesting of cabbage time in October, the sauerkraut was done right around the holidays. The slightly-sour, tart dish was found to be a perfect pairing with the fatty pork. But the custom of having a pig in the backyard started to disappear by the latter part of the 1900 s, Weaver said, soВ
people continued the holiday custom throughВ the butcher shop. That s when theВ pork and sauerkraut combo more or less shifted to Christmas Day dinner or to New Year s Day. And it continued on Jan. 1 not because of convenience, but because superstition kicked in. The folk saying was that pork brought good luck, Weaver said, since the pig roots forward. This rooting forward by the pig and its snout symbolizes progress, as compared to the chicken and the turkey which scratch backward. he idea that pork brings good luck along with it is actually pre-Christian and deeply embedded in Old World ideas about pigs and their animal form as a symbol of Lugh, an Irish deityВ who was believed to have controlled good luck, money and wealth. Somewhere along the lines, sauerkraut picked up its own superstitions. The Pennsylvania Dutch are known to tell children that if they eat sauerkraut on New Year s Day, they re in for a sweet year.


It s also said in Dutch folklore that long strands of sauerkraut represent a long life to be lived, and the green color that sauerkraut starts as can symbolize money: The more kraut, the more cash. The tradition grew and was picked up by many non-Pennsylvania Dutch. Today,В grocery stores around the regionВ carry pork and sauerkraut this time of year as it s in high demand. In Pennsylvania, the custom of pork and sauerkraut dinners was continued by local church groups and civic organizations like fire halls, Weaver said. Nostalgia for the good old days on the farm was turned into fundraisers, and so the demand continued. Have a tip? Email us at See something wrong on the site? Please. by December 26, 2017 4:15 AM Surprise! I m definitely not as German as I grew up believing I was. For Mother s Day this year, my husband gifted me with an Ancestry DNA kit and I discovered that mostly what I grew up believing my heritage to be, isn t. I believed that I was mostly German and Irish and it turns out that I m actually mostly from Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales at 63%), Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark- at 8%) and Ireland (Ireland, Wales, Scotland at 8%). I m only 7% European West (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein), but you know what?


That tiny 7% isn t going to stop me from continuing to observe the German tradition I ve followed on New Year s Day for nearly a decade. Maybe the fact that I m only 7% German on my dad s side is the reason that I didn t learn about the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year s Day until I was an adult and lived in Pennsylvania. You ve probably heard about eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year s Day, but have you ever wondered why? , the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year s day goes like this: Eating on New Year s Eve is a long-standing tradition in Germany. It is believed that eating Sauerkraut will bring blessings and wealth for the new year. Before the meal, those seated at the table wish each other as much goodness and money as the number of shreds of in the pot of Sauerkraut. The pig has long been a symbol for good luck and well-being. Because of this, many people believe that eating a meal with pork will bring luck in the coming new year. For those who prefer not to eat pork on New Year s Eve, a sweet alternative, such as -Pigs ( Marzipanschweine ) or pig-shaped, is believed to bring the same benefits. Did you know that the pig isn t able to turn it s head side to side or to look behind itself? The pig is only able to look forward and so, in addition to being considered a symbol of good luck, the pig also serves as a reminder to us to look forward into the new year and new possibilities, not backward at what has already happened.


If you d like to try starting a new tradition of pork and sauerkraut on New Year s Day, I m happy to share my slow cooker recipe. I do want to mention though that as much as I love sauerkraut, I find that sometimes it s a bit too bitter tasting. I cut the bitterness by cooking it with the pork right in the slow cooker. If you like sauerkraut to have more of a bite, don t cook it with the pork. Ingredients: 2 cups sauerkraut with liquid (this means don t drain the sauerkraut from the package or can! ) Directions: If the pork loin is too big for your slow cooker, cut it so that it will fit. Season the pork with caraway seeds, salt, and pepper. Dump the sauerkraut over the pork. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour, then cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. If you want to cook your meal overnight, pop it in the slow cooker on low after the ball drops on New Year s Eve and when you get up New Year s day (8 hours on low in the slow cooker), it ll be done. And yes, I often eat pork at sauerkraut for breakfast on New Year s Day. I mean, I don t know about you, but I could use all the extra money and luck I can get! [via

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