Growing up in Pennsylvania in a part German family, I have always eaten pork & sauerkraut on New Year’s Day1. I don’t remember when I started to like the sauerkraut end of it, but I remember having to eat “just a bite” to ensure good luck for the new year. It was never open for discussion. Not eating the stuff was enough to obligate the shameful German-Catholic to go to Confession. Really.
Fast forward to 2004, the first New Year’s Day after my husband and I were married. Since he didn’t have any family New Year traditions, I figured the door was wide open for me to carry on mine. I prepared the pork roast to perfection, and served it with sauerkraut. I knew he didn’t like sauerkraut, but I wasn’t going to have that stand in the way of a lucky new year2. So I encouraged him to just eat a tiny bite. He didn’t want to, but I basically begged him to humor me. He took the bite… and dashed to the bathroom to throw up. Personally, I thought he was being a little melodramatic. And I was disappointed. Apparently, this tradition was going to be one left unshared.
In the following years, I continued to prepare the traditional meal, but never again did I make him eat the sauerkraut. I have been disappointed that I haven’t had someone to share the tradition with.
That is, until last night. As I was preparing dinner, our 1½-year-old started to whine for a bite of it. I gave him a strand, sure he’d spit it back out. Instead, he took to the stuff like it was candy and ate at least a tablespoon with his dinner!
My year has been made already!
1 Eating pork & sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year is a German/Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.
2 Actually, I’m not superstitious, but where we have a tradition, I cling to it for dear life.