The Tradition Behind Eating Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day
Surprise! I'm definitely not as German as I grew up believing I was.
A few years ago my husband surprised me with an Ancestry DNA kit, but the bigger surprise was learning that what I grew up believing my heritage wasn't. Not only am I not what I thought I was. I'm not by a lot. It turns out that my DNA mostly comes 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? The revelation that I'm only 7% European West isn't going to stop me from continuing to observe the German tradition I've followed on New Year's Day for more than a decade.
You've probably heard about eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, but have you ever wondered why and where the tradition came from? According to German Food Guide, the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s day goes a little something 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."
Here's another fun fact...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 to the new year and to 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 that as much as I love sauerkraut, like a lot of people, sometimes I find it to be a bit bitter. To cut the bitterness, I cook my sauerkraut with the pork right in the slow cooker. If you like sauerkraut to have more of a bite then 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 (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]