Why Do We Eat Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day?

Do you want to increase your luck this coming year? Serve pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day!

The first day of January is special all over the world. Starting a new year gives us a new beginning with the desire for a bountiful year ahead. This is why we have a lot of traditions and rituals on New Year’s Day.

In America, some families gather for a hearty meal serving pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Why is it always part of the celebrated first meal of the year?

It’s because this tasty comfort food “ensures” good fortune throughout the year!

Pork and Sauerkraut New Year’s Tradition

Serving pork and sauerkraut on the first day of the year has been a long-standing tradition. But where did it all start?

The dish came from German settlers in Pennsylvania known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. The pork and sauerkraut dish was specially prepared at this time of year.

It was during the winter before Christmas and New Year’s Day that they would butcher and roast pork. Sauerkraut, being another staple in the German diet, is also served. And that brings the tradition of pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, or technically, New Year’s Eve.

You will also find this dish on family tables on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even throughout the year.

What Meat to Eat on New Year’s Day

Superstition comes with tradition. Why eat pork instead of other kinds of meat?

Pig fat represents prosperity. It is believed that the pig brings progress and positivity because it roots or nudges its snout forward, as opposed to chickens and turkeys scratching backward and even crabs walking sidewards.

What to Serve With Pork and Sauerkraut

How to enjoy your pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day?

Some people like it as it is, while some cook it with brown sugar or apples to give it a hint of sweetness.

When serving, you can eat it with kielbasa, hotdogs, or mashed potatoes on the side, while others prefer to relish it while drinking refreshing beer.

Sauerkraut Brings Good Luck

Sauerkraut or fermented cabbage is a symbol of good luck because of its long threads, which represents long life! Much like noodles in the Asian tradition.

Sauerkraut came from cabbage, which is thought to represent money due to its round shape (like coins) and its green color (like dollar bills). Not to mention, the practice of fermentation gives “long life” to your easily perishable raw cabbage.

These could be nothing but superstition. But superstition aside, sauerkraut indeed spreads good luck because of its amazing nutritional and health benefits!

As a superfood packed with probiotics and nutrients, it definitely promotes good health and long life.

Will you be grabbing a jar of sauerkraut for the new year? Why not make your own homemade sauerkraut?

Making your own sauerkraut may take a little bit of preparation (and trial and error), but it offers nutritional benefits and a burst of flavor that store-bought sauerkraut may lack.

Are you a first-time fermenter? Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to make easy homemade sauerkraut. This complete guide leaves little to no room for those dreaded fermentation mistakes.

If you are an experienced fermenter and want a bit of excitement with your homemade sauerkraut, try these mouthwatering sauerkraut flavors!

How To Make Pork And Sauerkraut

Get ready with your oven, slow cooker, or crockpot, and prepare your hearty pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Try these recipes:

Or… skip these recipes and go directly to the Comments section below where Jay so graciously shares his family secrets for the best Pork and Sauerkraut ever.

Insider secret of top chef’s…


Umami is often referred to as the fifth taste, joining sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. More specifically, it is a term to measure the level of glutamates (along with inosinates and guanylates) in certain ingredients. These glutamates – the same stuff that comprises MSG, or monosodium glutamate – are naturally occurring in many of your favorite foods and sauces, including sauerkraut.

When adding sauerkraut to cooked recipes, you lose the probiotic benefits, but the flavors in these dishes are incredible due to the tanginess of the sauerkraut. It’s another way to add umami to a dish, such as when adding fish sauce to kimchi.

Just be sure to serve some raw, uncooked sauerkraut alongside your cooked pork and sauerkraut dish. The raw probiotics and enzymes in raw sauerkraut ensure better digestion, especially for proteins and fats.

Wishing you good health, wealth, and happiness in the year ahead!

Or, viel glück in German.

Roast pork and sauerkraut on cutting board. | MakeSauerkraut.com
Woman sitting with jar of sauerkraut on knee. | MakeSauerkraut.com

Holly Howe, Fermentation Educator

Holly Howe has been learning about and perfecting the art of fermentation since 2002.

Her mission is dedicated to helping families welcome the powerful bacterial world into their homes in order to ferment delicious gut-healing foods.

She is the author of Fermentation Made Easy! Mouthwatering Sauerkraut, and creator of the online program Ferment Like a Pro!

Read more about her HERE.

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