There is a saying that goes “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” As a fellow PA Dutchman I believe that this is 100% true, okay maybe 92.3% true. Kind of a harsh statement, let’s say that even though you may not be Pennsylvania Dutch that you are good enough, you are smart enough and doggone it people like you.
Many assume that PA Dutch were settlers from the Netherlands. That would make sense since they are the Dutch. But actually PA Dutch originated from German immigrants who settled into southeastern Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. (There were earlier settlers but most came in around this time.) Most PA Dutch settled into the area ranging from Allentown out to Reading.
Yuup, that’s my home turf. Well former turf.
So where did the word “Dutch” originate for this group if not referring to the Netherlands? I’ll give you the short version and not the history lesson. Simply put, Dutch is a variation of the word Deutsche which means German person. Get it? Pretty simple, sort of.
Interesting Fact: Our little town gazette had several pages written in Pennsylvania Dutch. Not sure they still do today, but that was an interesting section.
There are many known Pennsylvania Dutch traditions such as:
- Big Barns & Hex Signs
- Pennsylvania Dutch Noodles
- Moravian Star
- Bringing prominence to the Christmas Tree in the U.S.
There is one PA Dutch Tradition that you may not be aware of, eating Pork & Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day.
From Wikipedia or some other educational site:
“A Pennsylvania Dutch tradition says that it’s good luck to eat pork for the new year because pigs forage forward for their food and don’t look back. In years past, food for winter was the equivalent of prosperity. Having a hog to slaughter and pork to eat at New Year’s meant a family would have food for the winter months. Because cabbage is a late fall crop, the most efficient way to preserve it for the winter was by turning it into sauerkraut. Bringing cabbage takes 6 to 8 weeks, which means that October kraut would be ready to eat just as the new year was arriving.”
Why not chicken?
The chicken symbolizes going backward. You don’t want to go backward entering a new year, because that invites bad luck.
This tradition is not a Pennsylvania thing, it’s a PA Dutch thing. I am now a New Jerseyan with an awesome family. We do keep to this tradition every year but I am not sure anyone but me enjoys the pork & sauerkraut dinner. But we at least we try…
So there you have it, a little interesting fact to help cure your New Year’s hangover.