New Years & Community Traditions

Smack in the middle of the liturgical Christmas season, which really does last for twelve days, we arrive at the non-liturgical holiday of New Year’s Eve. As our magi are still wandering around the living room, I’m mentally preparing to stay up a good four hours later than I have been recently.

This morning’s Writer’s Almanac included an interesting blurb about the history of the Times Square ball-dropping tradition. (32,000 LED lights? Who knew?) Mr. Keillor also mentioned the proliferation of item-dropping traditions:

Atlanta, Georgia, drops a giant peach. Eastport, Maine, drops a sardine. Ocean City, Maryland, drops a beach ball, and Mobile, Alabama, drops a 600-pound electric Moon Pie. In Tempe, Arizona, a giant tortilla chip descends into a massive bowl of salsa. Brasstown, North Carolina, drops a Plexiglas pyramid containing a live possum; and Key West, Florida, drops an enormous ruby slipper with a drag queen inside it.

All very, um, interesting, but as I read through this list, I kept hoping they’d mention some of my favorites from central Pennsylvania.

It seems like every little town within an hour’s drive of where I grew up had its own traditions:

* A giant pickle in Dillsburg.
* A lit-up strawberry in Strawberry Square of downtown Harrisburg.
* A red rose in Lancaster.
* A giant French fry from the roof of the Carsonville Hotel.
* A 100-pound stick of bologna in Lebanon.

I kid you not. You’ll notice that on this state-by-state Wikipedia compendium, Pennsylvania outnumbers all of the other states.

I, of course, grew up thinking this was all rather normal. Giant pickle? No problem.

I also grew up thinking it was completely normal to eat sauerkraut on New Years. And I don’t just mean normal, but an absolute 100-percent standard served in every  home and home-cookin’ restaurant. But apparently that’s just a Pennsylvania thing, too.

And that’s okay.

We did, though, add sauerkraut to our grocery list this week.

How will your community be celebrating?

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