Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Pork = New Year's Luck in the Lehigh Valley

Although I've lived in the Lehigh Valley since 2006, I had never eaten pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day until I joined a family that draws its roots in Pennsylvania Dutch culture.

I'm not from Pennsylvania or "Dutch" (really, German), so until I began dating my now-FH, I hadn't considered it an essential tradition. But in his family, it's no joke - everyone eats pork, and even those who aren't wild about sauerkraut need to have some of that, too. It's good luck to do it, and bad luck not to.

(This is also the family that is so superstitious about the Philadelphia Eagles that when they scored a touchdown once while we were eating dinner together, they started making new rules, like "Now we have to eat soup every time the Eagles play.")

Like an obedient convert, I ate my pork and sauerkraut and have high hopes for 2012 as a result. 2011 was a sad one for our family, since we lost two loved ones. The recipe for 2012 looks good: start with memories of those loved ones, add a new baby or two, mix in a wedding and a trip to visit family friends in Maine. Bake for 12 months. Serves a family.

My friend Kirwei always buys new pajamas and sheets on New Year's. I always clean my home office desk, put new pictures in frames and dust off the old ones. Some people buy new underwear and eat black-eyed peas.

If you're from the Valley, is pork on New Year's a tradition in your family? And if it's not, have you adopted it since you've moved here? Any other New Year's traditions?

Even if not... happy new year, everyone!


  1. Anonymous1/11/2011

    Big time tradition in my family. The one year we had chicken and I spent 70% of the year with a cold or virus of some kind. Every other year it is pork and my health is fantastic. My fiance won't eat pork but has found a recipe for vegan pancakes that doesn't use chicken products as a reasonable substitute.

    Bottom line is that pork is good for new years and chicken is bad. Why, you ask? B/c pigs root through the mud going forward while chickens scratch at the ground going backwards. For the new year, going forward is good while scratching backwards is bad. Seriously: I kid you not.

  2. No real traditions, but last year I celebrated New Years with my best friend, whose brother, a chef from California was in town. He made a traditional NYE dinner with all the luckiest foods- black eyed peas and grapes. It was tasty, healthy and fun!

  3. Anonymous1/12/2011

    Long time reader first time commenter... That BF of yours seems very smart!

  4. Anonymous1/13/2011

    Word has it that the tradition for the PA Dutch emanates from the fact (belief?) that pigs can't (don't) look backwards, so it's a good way to start the year fresh, or so tell me my PA Dutch in-laws.