As the old year closed and the new year began, I was reminded of one thing, traditions! My eldest daughter, Greta, said,
“Traditions are the BEST part of the holidays.”
I look back over Christmas and New Year and we indeed have established our traditions that have been passed down through the generations. The generations have been influenced by culture and religion over the course of hundreds of years.
For us, Christmas Eve would not be the same without a venison tenderloin dinner that proceeds midnight Mass. After midnight Mass, the evening would not be complete without opening the first gift from Santa, inevitably a pair of new pajamas. And what would Christmas morning be without filled stockings with all the favorites: toothbrush, floss, Chapstick, nuts, and gum. The morning unwrapping is always followed by a breakfast of “German eggs”. For us, that is soft boiled eggs eaten from our eierbecher that we collected on a trip to Germany. It also has become a tradition each year to ring in the New Year with our friends, the Farlers, at their annual soup party. Following this, no New Year would be complete without spending the first day of the year with our friends, the Mullins, for the “lucky cabbage rolls”.
The tradition of lucky foods eaten on the first day of the new year is throughout all cultures and countries across the world.
Many foods are eaten on this day to bring prosperity and good health. In Spain, you will find them eating grapes at midnight and drinking champagne, as the sweetness or tartness predicts the New Year. A U.S. southern tradition is the eating of black eyed peas for humility and the inviting of good fortune. In Italy, you will find them eating lentils. The abundance of the tiny little grains symbolizes wealth for the coming year. Circular items are a tradition as well. It means, “Coming full circle”, and it is a gift of luck. Sticking with the circular theme, anything shaped like a coin or even a coin baked within a cake is said to bring abundance of wealth and good luck for the New Year. Noodles are eaten in the east for good luck, where in Japan the buckwheat noodles are said to bring longevity. Many foods across many nations are eaten year after year as a tradition to bless the New Year.
At our annual lucky food feast, we eat the Mullins’ cabbage rolls, a recipe passed down by them over the years. The rolls consist of green cabbage filled with a meat and rice filling, topped with a tomato sauce. These are all things meant to bless the year with good fortune. Along side the cabbage rolls you will find collard greens, black eyed peas, corn bread, ham and/or pork, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese with loads of other desserts and goodies that the friends have pitched in to bring good luck, fortune, and health to our group. For me, I think the best part of all these traditions, is that they are done with family, friends, and friends who are family. That right there, my friends, is all the good fortune you need!