The Pennsylvania Dutch tradition: Pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s

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Our Pennsylvania Dutch tradition says pork and sauerkraut is the meal with which to ring in a new year, in order to bring good luck.

But did you know these New Year’s customs?

– Eating noodles at midnight is customary at Buddhist temples in Japan.

– In Spain, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Each grape signifies one month of the upcoming year. A sweet grape means the month will be good. A sour grape means the month will be bad.

– German folklore says that eating a herring at the stroke of midnight will bring luck for the next year.

– Hungarian culture says that eating chicken on New Year’s Day means you will be scratching for money the way a chicken scratches for food.

– In the South, black-eyed peas are said to bring good luck for the new year.

Commenter Joe has an interesting take on our tradition. He writes, “Looking ahead to New Years – despite being a life long York Countian, and part German I do not do the pork and sauerkraut… I may do pork but definitely not sauerkraut! Does this mean my York Countian card gets revoked?”

I’m in agreement, but what do you think? Pork and kraut a must-have? Or a must-avoid? If you do eat it, what’s your recipe or your favorite place to go out and get it?

About Joan

My name is Joan and I'm a lifelong Yorker. Throughout high school and college, I swore I was getting out of here as soon as possible. Now, a few years later, I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be. I love my town, and I hear every day from readers who love their towns, too. So please, connect with me and let's share what makes life in York County great. I'm here to help you enjoy this place as much as I do!
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7 Responses to The Pennsylvania Dutch tradition: Pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s

  1. Ben Lightner says:

    I hate sauerkraut. But I eat one strand for good luck. LOL!!!

  2. Mark Grubic says:

    Greetings from Austria!!!
    I just talked with my wife about what the tradition is here for New Years meals. She has told me that it can vary from region to region but involves Pork and mainly Sauerkraut. So this seems to be the tradition carrying over to there. I can remember when growing up York, we alternated years one year Pork and Sauerkraut and the next Hog Maw. Still involved pork. Here on New Years (Silvester) we give out small lucky charms to friends and such and most of them are little pigs. So there ya go, my 2 cents from Austria. Wuensch euch eine Guten Rutsch im Neues Jahr!!!
    Bis Spaeter,
    Von Oesterreich!!
    Mark

  3. Linda H says:

    The hubby is from Ky so for him it’s ham hocks and black eyed peas. I’ll cook smoked shanks in green beans and we’ll have the black eyed peas. I like sauerkraut but he’s not a fan. My mother would always have pickled herring. Not me so I guess I’m the German black sheep. Personally I’d prefer prime rib.

  4. Jo says:

    YUM! I cook lots of extra kraut to eat on hot dogs later.

  5. Jamie Kolasinski says:

    I’m grew up in Indiana am of German, Polish, Swiss, Italian & Irish decent…my mom made pork and sauerkraut every New Year’s to bring luck in the new year. It’s best with a touch of brown sugar to take the edge off the sauerkraut! We live in SC now but still prefer the pork n kraut any day!!

  6. Justine Toombs says:

    I grew up in Western PA. Every year my family eats sauerkraut and pork for New Years. It is easy to make and delicious to eat!! All you need is a Crockpot and sauerkraut, large chunks of onion, a quartered apple, brown sugar, browned porkchops (browning the pork chops allows you to scrape brownbits into the kraut adding flavor), and hot dogs. Before you serve, take out the apple and onion as it is added for flavor. Then for leftovers we eat kraut-dogs!! Mmmm, yummy :P

  7. Hubby says:

    Kielbasa is the kind of “pork” that I like best with sauerkraut. … Yum. …. And that German herring tradition sounds interesting, for sure!

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