Looking back in time, farm families that had a pig felt they were lucky because it would feed their family during the winter. Thus, pigs became good luck charms. In German one says "ich habe Schwein gehabt," which translated literally means "I have had pig." Figuratively it means "I have had good luck!" Little pigs of cake or candy (marzipan) are also produced and represent luck.
Another old German-American custom is called "shooting in the New Year," which meant going throughout the village and firing a few shots into the air by friends' homes. This is an ancient custom that was to ward off any evil spirits lurking around the home as the New Year began.
This custom has now evolved into shooting off fireworks to welcome in the New Year, for some folks. I remember my father "shooting in the New Year" when I was a little girl.
Pork and Sauerkraut
(adapted from Cooking with Annemarie)
1 loin of pork (4 to 5 pounds)
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 jars sauerkraut (abt 28-32 ounces each)
2 1/2 cups white wine
1 bay leaf
5-7 juniper berries
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a heavy pan such as a dutch oven, heat the oil, add the pork and brown on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside.
Add the onions, cooking until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil.
Return the pork to the pan. Cover. Place in the oven and cook until the pork reaches 170 degrees. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Medium 160 degrees; well done 170 degrees)
Remove the pork from the oven. Let it rest before slicing. Place the sliced pork on a platter and surround it with the sauerkraut.