2012 Skelly Family Christmas

Eat Your Way To a Prosperous New Year.

P ull up a chair. Tie on your napkin, pick up a fork and dig in. The very first bite could change your life forever, or at least for the next twelve months. Happy New Year!

The holiday season has long been wrapped up in eating and drinking, but on New Year's Day choosing what to ingest becomes more purposeful. A whole bill of fare has evolved around the notion that, with luck, you really can become what you eat. A whole new concept in dieting: a scheme for a wealthier version of you that doesn't involve marriage to someone you'll never love.

Apparently, when many people think of changing their luck they're not overly concerned with health or happiness or love or fame. It seems they mostly want more money. And this is nothing new. We've been like that for a long time, on New Year's Day or any day.

Auspicious foods for New Year's Day fall into six major types: grapes, greens, legumes, pork, fish, and cakes.

Revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight—one for each chime of the clock. The custom dates back to 1909, when grape growers in the Alicante region initiated the practice to work down a grape surplus. (Hey, florists in America created Mother's Day to sell flowers.) It eventually spread to Portugal and to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. If the third grape is sour, March might be a rocky month. Peruvians eat a 13th grape for good measure.

Cooked greens (cabbage, collards, kale, chard) look like folded money and symbolize financial good fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans like sauerkraut and in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice.

Likewise, legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are associated with financial reward because they resemble coins and swell when cooked. Italians eat cotechino con lenticchie (sausages and green lentils) just after midnight. Germans like lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice. In Japan, a group of symbolic dishes that includes sweet black beans is eaten during the first three days of the new year. The south's legume entry is a dish called Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice).

Pigs symbolize progress. (Huh?) They push forward, rooting themselves in the ground before moving. Their rich fat content signifies wealth and prosperity. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria. Pig's feet are enjoyed in Sweden, and Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also popular on New Year's Day in Italy and the United States,

Fish has been a holiday feast staple ever since the Middle Ages. The reasons seem mainly rooted in practicality. Cod could be preserved and thus transported throughout the Mediterranean and as far afield as North Africa and the Caribbean. The Church's red meat proscription on religious holidays helped make fish commonplace on feast days. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life and dried sardines for a good harvest.
Fourth Annual Skelly Family Christmas Video

Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year's around the world, with a special emphasis on round or ring-shaped items. In some cultures, they hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year.

Foods to avoid on New Years Day include these:
Lobster (they move backwards and could lead to setbacks),
Chicken (they scratch backwards and could cause regret),
Any winged fowl (good luck could fly away).

Northwestern and Mississippi State met today in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. This marked the Wildcats' 10th Bowl appearance since winning the Rose Bowl against Cal., 20-14, back in 1949. They lost all of their next nine chances. This time they made it rain and erased 63 years of drought with a 34-20 win. Wonder what they had for a pre-game meal this year.

For us, roast pork and sauerkraut, apple sauce, roasted potatoes and green beans with toasted almonds have long been our traditional New Year's Day fare, sandwiched in between football games. Not sure it's ever brought any luck, but sure tastes good. Tried collard greens once several years ago. Have been lucky enough to avoid them ever since. Yuck. Spinach without a high school diploma.

So Happy New Year! Whatever your menu of choice, here's hoping your table overflows, your spirits soar and your prospects turn out to be on the uptick as well,. Plan for the best, guard against the worst, bank the difference, and sup and quaff your fill. After all, you'll need your strength.

And ye, who have met with Adversity's blast
And been bow'd to the earth by its fury.
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently passed
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen.
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
Thomas Hood

Last Year's Index:
Dec. 10-2.85   Dec. 15-3.96   Dec. 20-4.18   Dec. 25-4.0
Dec. 10-3.0   Dec. 15-3.28   Dec. 20-3.53   Right now: 3.49

The Story Thus Far ...

Current Christmas Spirit breakdown:

About the same aggregate score as this time last year, but arrived at quite differently. More 3s and 5s, fewer 0s and far fewer 6s. Are people feeling tentative, more conservative? However did Obama win reelection?

You guys felt better last year. And the year before that, even. Jobs are up, GDP is better, real estate is getting better. And now it looks like the world won't be ending just before Christmas after all. (Like the ancient Mayans would know more than today's astronomers and physicists. If they were so smart, they'd still be here.) But you! What are you, afraid of heights? When we were kids, you used to dive off bigger cliffs. Are you waging your own war against Christmas? What?

Some increased high-enthusiasm sentiment, but overall still relatively subdued this close to Christmas, compared to previous years. Notably, recent email promotions suggest males are more amenable to voting than females, a finding that seemed surprising. Or are males just more amenable to using the computer to distract themselves from more important tasks? You decide.

Go to websitesammy.com homepage