When I was young, every New Years Day, my grandparents would have sauerkraut and kielbasa. A big, reeking crockpot full of the vile stuff.
I hated it.
Family lore has it that was the meal they had their first married New Years together and every New Year’s day after. They claimed it was “lucky”, but no one every had any earthly idea why. Personally, I think it was just because Grandad really liked saurekaut, and felt lucky to be guaranteed one of his favorite meals every January 1st. If that’s what gave them long lives and 50 years of a happy marriage, well then more power to the stinky stuff.
Luckily, there were plenty of other things to make a kid’s meal, and if you were very lucky, some of Grandmother’s famous apple dumplings or her less famous but cosmically wonderful snickerdoodles for dessert.
As an adult, I’ve developed a grudging, sniffling, eye-watering respect for spicy kimchee, but normal grocery store sauerkraut is not allowed to darken my doorstep. Ever.
Turns out eating sauerkraut on New Years for luck is a German / Dutch tradition that has been around for a long, long time. Which makes sense given our family’s long-ago Hessian and Bavarian roots. Little did we know.
I still hate the stuff.
The first year we were married, I wanted to find something to make our own, less stinky tradition. Decided on Jambalaya. Rice is often considered a symbol of fertility or abundance. That seemed like a good thing for New Years. It was a nod to my husband’s time in Louisiana as a kid, and I could include Grandmother’s kielbasa.
I’m not feeling very traditional this year. My intuition is twitching…2013 needs something fresh and new. I’m not sure quite what, so started snooping online for other “lucky” New Year’s foods. Of course, there is the Asian noodle, a symbol of longevity. I do like a good lo mein. Now THAT’s what you do with cabbage.
For some reason, the South reveres black-eyed peas for New Years. Not in my house. I thought the whole point was to have something nice, if possible, to celebrate and set a positive vibe for the upcoming year. I don’t necessarily want to have a year that resonates with black-eyed peas, unless you mean the band.
Fish is a North American New Year’s good luck tradition according to Good Housekeeping. Fish swim in schools, is a long-time symbol of wealth and abundance in both Oriental and Western cultures.
We have a winner! Love fish, it doesn’t involve sauerkraut in any form, has the right vibe – and did I mention it tastes good? At least that cod in the freezer will taste pretty good after it’s baked with some butter and dill.
Or, if all else fails, there are always snickerdoodles.
Happy New Year everyone 🙂