Why People Eat Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day
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? According to German Food Guide, the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s day goes like this:
Eating Sauerkraut 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 cabbage 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 Marzipan-Pigs (Marzipanschweine) or pig-shaped chocolates, 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.
1 pork loin roast
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups sauerkraut with liquid (this means don't drain the sauerkraut from the package or can!)
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 German Food Guide]