My mom always made sausage or hot dogs, sauerkraut, and
mashed potatoes on New Years Day.
I never gave it much thought. It was just this quirky thing that her family had always done,
probably an old Amish custom.
I think I’ve done this once or twice in all our married
life. It never went over big, sauerkraut
not being a favorite around here.
On our trip we spent part of two days with Paul’s sister
Barb in her to-die-for old farmhouse in southwestern Pennsylvania.
She lives there with a family from her church, the Ludwicks.
The day we left, Mr. Ludwick was working in the kitchen as I
walked through. I noticed a red crock
pot on the counter.
Curious, I peeked inside, and there was a simmering mixture
of hot dogs, kielbasa, and sauerkraut.
I had a sudden flashback to my childhood.
I thought for a minute.
It was New Years Day.
I think the Ludwicks attend a Mennonite church now but I’m pretty
sure they grew up as “Englisch” as they come.
Mr. Ludwick works for the FBI—you can’t get more non-Amish than that.
Yet, there was that pot of sausage and sauerkraut on New
I didn’t have a box in my brain for this.
As it turns out, the Ludwicks have German heritage from
way-way back, and this is just something they do, apparently without giving it
Maybe we can conclude that sausage and sauerkraut on New
Year’s is a German custom, rather than uniquely Amish. But still, I find it fascinating that these
people would keep it up, this many years later.
Barb said, “I think people in the East are just more
Is she right? I have a quiz for my dear readers who are not of German-Anabaptist
How many generations “off the boat” are you? (Or were your ancestors there to meet the
Do you still
keep up ethnic traditions? If so, what are they?
What part of the country do you live in?
I’d love to hear your answers.