Monday, January 4, 2010

More Traditions

While Allentown, PA ,where I grew up, is a far cry from Amish country, it does have many long standing Pennsylvania Dutch traditions that are dear to my heart. I hope to carry on these traditions with my own children. One biggie is eating Pork and Sauerkraut on New Years Day. I remember asking my nana why we had to eat it every new years day and all I remembered her telling me was something about chickens scratching away your money. So after a delicious dinner of Pork and Sauerkraut this evening, I decided to uncover the mystery.

The practice of eating pork for luck came to America hundreds of years ago and is common with many nationalities. The chickens scratching symbolizes scratching away your money, so obviously only a fool would eat chicken on New Year's Day! The pig digs in mud with his nose (yuck anyway) and pushes forward symbolizing forward action. And pigs are fat so eating one means you will be fed well throughout the upcoming year. Germans and Swedes pick cabbage as a lucky side dish, I couldn't figure out why, but I am content enough with my background knowledge to share with H and Ev when they are old enough to ask.

My research uncovered some of my favorite practices and even a few new ones we may have to try. Germans brought pretzels to America and still eat them for breakfast on New Years morning, they supposedly symbolize good luck. I have to ask my mom if she did this as a child. I know they sometimes ate "pretzel soup" for dinner. It was a bowl of milk with crumbled pretzels and a dallop of butter....yum-haha. Then there is the molasses cup cakes, shoofly pie, chicken pot pie (not the kind in a pie shell), lebanon bologna and cream cheese roll ups, hot bacon salad dressing (Ian refuses to eat), and corn pie (gross....a pie shell filled with milk, corn and butter-but my brother Keith loved it and my mom made it all the time, so I do have fond memories).

Then there are the wonderful expressions of the PA Dutch:

I was wonderful sick last week- I was sick last week
outen the light- turn off the light
go make the door shut- shut the door
the candy is all- no more candy
dippy eggs - eggs over easy
your hair is all strubbley- messy I guess, my mom says it to Holden all the time

My favorite though is "rutsching." As in, "Holden, stop rutsching around, now" when she is antsy and squirmy. Even Ian uses that one!

Pork and Sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes of course, is not a pretty plate. It is pale-yellowish-greenish wet slop. The only seasoning allowed is salt and pepper. But if you have never experienced it, you are missing out! Hey now, come on over once now to our place January 1, 2011 and we would love to share our sloppy mess of pork sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with you!

I will leave you with a nostalgic PA dutch expression....
“Ve get too soon oldt, und too late schmart” so true.....


  1. FYI on the pretzels. The Pennsylvania Dutch used the inter-connected loops of the pretzel to help children grasp the concept of the Holy Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit....Pretzel soup may just have been one of those foods that was filling yet inexpensive.

  2. Thanks...I will file that somewhere important to i remember when Ev and H ask!



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