Start the year with brine

By Daniel Briseno dnl.briseno@gmail.com
Posted 1/10/22

Many people, families and cultures have annual traditions. One such tradition is that of the New Year.

Although not every civilization celebrated the New Year on Jan. 1, each culture threw its …

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Start the year with brine

Posted

Many people, families and cultures have annual traditions. One such tradition is that of the New Year.

Although not every civilization celebrated the New Year on Jan. 1, each culture threw its own kind of party. Looking back through the midst of time one can easily find that New Year’s celebrations date back more than 3,000 years.

The Mesopotamians celebrated the New Year on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Their celebration was a multi-day event called Akitu with large parades featuring the statues of their gods to prepare the new year.

Mesopotamians even went as far as to hold a humiliation of their king. The king was taken to the statue of Marduk, stripped of all his royal regalia and forced to say he led the city with honor. Not too bad, right? Except a high priest then slapped the king and dragged him through the streets by his ears in hopes to make him cry. If the king cried, Marduk was considered satisfied, and the new year was blessed.

In my opinion, one of the most exciting New Year’s celebrations is the Chinese New Year. This celebration dates back more than 3,000 years to the Shang Dynasty and is still prevalent across the world today. It is generally a 15-day event that ushers in the spring planting season.

The celebration consists of giving gifts of money, paying old debts, cleaning the house, multiple parades and fireworks. Fireworks seem to be everywhere during the Chinese New Year celebration and rightly so as the Chinese were the first to celebrate the New Year with fireworks.

Switching it up one last time, we see that American New Year celebrations also have their own traditions. One such tradition is eating corned beef and cabbage on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day.

My family chooses New Year’s Day and traditionally speaking it is so we can be hopeful for good fortune to fall upon us in the new year. However, this tradition falls further back into the hands of the Irish.

When Irish immigrants came to America during the Great Potato Famine of 1845 to 1852 they brought with them their knowledge of food. The Irish quickly learned that corned beef resembled what Americans called salt pork.

Since corned beef was easily available to the lower class, they chose to use corned beef. Add in cabbage as it was an easy staple for the Irish to grow and there are the makings of a traditional dish. Although this dish is synonymous with both Saint Patrick’s Day and New Year’s, many choose to eat it on New Year’s and some eat it on both.

There are other reasons this meal is a New Year’s tradition. Some eat the cabbage because it is green and resembles money. Some say sliced potatoes resemble coins. No matter why you choose to eat it, one thing’s for sure and that is corned beef and cabbage is truly a delicious meal for any time of the year.