Since I can remember – with every New Year’s Eve has come the new year’s “lucky” foods. Sauerkraut, kielbasa and boneless pork ribs along side mashed potatoes. At Food Timeline they share a lot of the food symbolism of foods ssociated with New Year’s Day. So I wanted to find out where this tradition started. They shared that in Europe hundreds of years ago, wild boars were caught in the forests and killed on the first day of the year. Also, a pig uses its snout to dig in the ground in a forward direction. Maybe people liked the idea of moving forward as the new year began, especially since pigs are also associated with plumpness and getting plenty to eat. However the custom arose, Austrians, Swedes, and Germans frequently choose pork or ham for their New Year’s meal. They brought this tradition with them when they settled in different regions of the United States. New Englanders often combine their pork with sauerkraut to guarantee luck and prosperity for the coming year. My family came from Pennsylvania and we’re mainly Swedish, so I am guessing that it was a new country tradition that we picked up.
The truth be told that those in Sweden are usually just like me, at home in the kitchen with family and friends. The are reducing their sauces, caramelise their orange peel and then they lay the table with the finest dinnerware, tablecloths and candlesticks. They dress up in newly-bought clothes and pretend the icy wind howling outside the door is not there. In pre-industrial society, it was a part of the Christmastime celebrations. In contrast to Christmas, however, it was mainly a festive occasion for young people.
One of the funny traditions I found from Sweden was to toss shoes. If your shoe landed with the toe pointing towards the door, it meant you would move away or even die during the year. I don’t think we’ll be tossing any shoes at my house, but my family tradition of sauerkraut will be one that I’ll include forever. As you know traditions are not only important for creating and preserving your childhood memories, but they provide a stability for children, and create the ability for the family to spend quality time together. It’s not too late. If you don’t have a New Year’s Eve tradition, create one with your family this year. You’ll never regret having it.