When a new calendar year starts on January 1st, Americans across the country will enjoy the deliciously pungent aroma of a famous culinary tradition: Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Where did the tradition start? And why do we eat sauerkraut on New Year’s?
Germans have been eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s for generations because they believe it brings good luck (viel glück in German). As these kraut lovers immigrated to the Midwest, they brought their traditions with them, including this one. That’s why in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which received many German immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries, people are almost religious about this delicious duo.
Legend also says that pork is enjoyed because pigs look forward when they root for food, rather than chicken and turkeys which scratch backward, just as the Germans were looking ahead to the New Year. They also wished each other as many riches as there are shreds of cabbage in the sauerkraut they eat. We like that one.
The Practical Magic of Sauerkraut on New Year's Day
While we all want a bit of luck and riches, we’re more excited about the practical magic of sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Generations ago, the Germans likely felt better after eating their beloved fermented cabbage and recognized sauerkraut’s digestive and immune-boosting properties. Today, we can’t think of a healthier tradition than starting off your new year with sauerkraut, although the modern kraut lover might enjoy this crunchy treat a bit differently – forego the pork, preferring a plant-based diet or eat it raw rather than cooked to avoid killing off the probiotics. You’ll get a digestive boost from this live food, helping to cultivate your inner biome and keep your good bacteria behaving. And, all the fast-absorbing vitamins and minerals that flood your system will help relieve any leftover “mistakes” of the previous night.
If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier or stay healthy, the sauerkraut tradition will help you start right away. Read all about how sauerkraut helps your body here.
No matter how you enjoy your sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, remember that what’s good for you on January 1st is just as good for you the rest of the year. So February 1st, April 23rd and November 16th are all excellent days to enjoy the health benefits and delicious tang of sauerkraut. And, if you happen to find a little luck, all the better.
Happy New Year, all year!