Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pork and Kraut - Berks County New Years Good Luck Dinner

In Berks County, Pennsylvania, pork and sauerkraut is the main dish eaten on January 1 of every New Year. It is eaten in the hope to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year.

This belief comes from the German cultural background of many early settlers of Berks County. Many other cultures follow beliefs or superstition related to the New Year.

Upon checking books in the Reference section of the Yocum Library I found, The Folklore of the World Holidays , to be most informative.
I listed some of the practices that other countries follow on January 1st.

The Folklore of the World Holidays.By- Margaret Read MacDonald

January 1
New Year’s Day

Lucky signs or good omens that promise success or happiness in the coming year mark the first day of the New Year. A good housecleaning, payment of old debts, finishing a job left undone and a literal sweeping out of the old precedes the New Year in many cultures.

Austria- New Year’s Dinner
This is the day of the suckling pig. The little pig is a good luck symbol. Beside the pig is the four-leaf clover. The pig is the main course for dinner with green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

Belgium – New Year’s letters
Schoolchildren write letters to members of their family. They start months ahead of time and must read aloud to the schoolmaster until the letter is perfect. The child takes the letter home and hides them until New Year’s Day.

On New Year’s Day at the dinner table, he will formally announce greeting to his parents and read the letter. The father talks about the letter than gives the child a coin. His mother does give a coin too. The child receives a piece of cake along with the coin. The child visits and reads letter to relatives during the day and evening collecting coins and cake. The money is to be saved, not spent.

France –
All sort of customs go on in the country. Familiar songs of greetings are sung at people’s doors; particular cakes or gifts in baskets are given.
The Peille fete of January 1 – The master of the festival present young men an orange in which some flower is set, called a “ flowering apple”, they in turn give it to their sweetheart and there is much merry making and dancing.

Great Britain- Gift giving
Early in the morning children in Scotland, Wales and the English border countries make the rounds of their neighbors. They are treated with coins, mince pies, apples or other sweets. They must stop by noon or they will be called fools and not given a gift.

First footers- The first person to cross the threshold in the New Year indicates good or ill for the coming year. Preferably male and dark coloring, but in eastern Scotland, East Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire, however, fair men bring good luck and in Bradford and West Yorkshire red heads are preferred. A high instep is good luck, flatfeet is bad luck. And, the called should not be empty handed. A piece of coal for the fire, a loaf of bread for the table and a glass of whiskey for the head of the household are traditional gifts. The first footers enter by the front door and leave by the back door.

Haiti – combined with Independence Day.
Even the poorest of Haitians will wear something new on New Year’s Day. They believe what ever happens to them on New Year’s Day is symbolic of what the year will bring. They dress in something new, give and receive gifts,(money being the best gift) they visit friends, in hope that these pleasures will be enjoyed through the year.

Sicily- New Year’s Lasagna
A dish known as “Lasagna Cacate” is served. It is made of wide, wavy lasagna, which is cooked full length, unbroken. The ricotta and sauce are added at the table. To eat any other form of pasta on this day brings ill luck.

Surinam – Firecrackers and parties bring in the New Year.
New Years Eve and New Year’s Day start on the 31st of December with lots of fireworks. Firecrackers and the liveliest festivities and grand parties are very common in Surinam. These parties last until the next day.