Our New Years Eve Traditions

(pictured above – cabbage roll, sauerkraut, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, homemade crescent roll)

I have never celebrated New Year’s Eve without sauerkraut and cabbage rolls! Since I was born, my extended Hungarian family has gathered on New Year’s Eve and eaten what we call “Pigs In the Blanket“. About 8 years ago, I inherited the holiday as mine. So it’s been my task to make cabbage rolls for the entire extended family.

Pigs In The Blanket recipe:

1 pound hamburg

1/2 onion cut fine

1 cup rice

salt and pepper

dash of sugar

1 tablespoon of water

1 head of cabbage

1 Jar of sauerkraut 32oz.

Mix all of the above ingredients except the cabbage and sauerkraut in a bowl.

Put a pan of water on to boil. Cut and core the cabbage. Place the cabbage in the boiling water, core face down, and let the leaves come off one at a time.

Take a large pot and put a layer of sauerkraut along the bottom. Then roll a small amount of filling in a leaf. Make a layer of cabbage rolls and then layer it with sauerkraut and then a second layer of cabbage rolls. And top it with sauerkraut.

Fill the pan with water – sprinkle the top with pepper and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer until the rice is done and the meat is cooked through (around 3 hours). Enjoy!

When I make my pigs, I triple this recipe and get around 26 cabbage rolls.

Another tradition is to make a Time Capsule. I take a Quaker Oats canister and turn it into a capsule!

From the youngest to the oldest, every single person in attendance at our party puts something into the Time Capsule to remind them of the past year. Some of the things that have gone into the Time Capsule over the years are ultra-sound baby photos, business cards to new jobs, vacation photos, school papers, Binky’s, match box cars, sports memorabilia, and much more! And I must admit, I have NEVER made it through the passing of the capsule without crying!!! It always touches me deeply to see how much God does in just one year in all of our lives!

Here’s my mom putting into the capsule her wedding invitation – as they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary that year.

My sister put a page of her calendar into the capsule so one day she can remember a “day in the life of…”. All her boys’ sports schedules and activities are there to remember.My father put a picture of a car he sold that year that paid for a huge extended family vacation to Colorado. What a great dad I have to sacrifice his car so we all could make memories that will last forever!

Then we watch the ball drop into the New Year. We each kiss every single person there – so that takes a while to make the rounds! Then we pour sparkling grape juice – someone makes a toast and we drink to it! Oh it is truly a blessed night to go into the new year with my favorite people on earth!
So that’s what we do here in our home! What are your New Years Eve traditions?

Walk with the King!


  1. When I was growing up, we would always go to church for "Watch Night" service. At the stroke of midnight, we would be found worshiping and praising God for a brand new year. After church service, we'd go downstairs and have a fellowship with the BEST doughnuts, served with milk, orange juice or coffee. Fun times!!

  2. My grandmother, who was Polish, gave me a recipe for cabbage rolls when I was a child. I had to bring a dish to school from my heritage. I don't remember the kraut, but otherwise it sounds very similar.
    We usually go to church for a Chinese food dinner, but this year it was cancelled 🙁 I plan on making some fun finger foods and hanging out with my hubby and kids. We will watch the ball drop and use our noisemakers.

  3. Our tradition may sound boring to others, but it's sweet and it's ours 😀

    Our tradition is to do nothing. We run and do so much all the time. We make a point to start the year at home, with everyone in their own beds, quiet and ready for sleep.

    We stay awake and then kiss at midnight – then go to sleep. <3

    Crazy, huh? I love spending the beginning of my new year with the man that I love … just us.

  4. I love the idea of the time capsule – we've never done that and just might have to try a version of it. We'll be celebrating at my parents' house – the very same one I grew up in. Blessings to you, Courtney for sharing and loving so well.

  5. I love it…what an awesome family tradition. Growing up ours was just getting family and friends together, eating and see who could stay up to watch the fireworks. But the last several years we invited friends over for a potluck and went down to a secluded area and watched fireworks. It's nice to spend with family and friends. This year I would love to incorporate some sort of tradition and I love those time capsules. Now what do you do with them afterwards? Do you barry them or do you keep them somewhere safe?
    Thanks for all the great ideas and encouragement.

    In His Love,

  6. Courtney, you are so adorable and so are your sisters! I was so surprised to see that y'all use sauerkraut and not any tomato juice in your cabbage rolls. I may have to try it your way too. (My family is of Slovak and Slavenian heritage.) I, too, love the time capsule idea, but think I would have to strain my brain to think of things to put in there!

  7. Hi Courtney.

    Like Theresa, my grandmothers (both sides) are Polish and we also make cabbage rolls, although not for New Years. What a great tradition!

    We just celebrated our family Christmas this week and my mother made the kapusta (saurkraut with kielbasa) and pierogi.

    I think celebrating heritage so special and important for our children!

    Blessings to you in 2011!


  8. What sweet traditions. If I'm ever lucky enough to have a family, I'd love to do a time capsule.

    Our New Year's is plain and simple and relaxed. Best way to start the year.


  9. What lovely traditions! We don't really have any at home but if I ever have a family of my own we will have traditions.

    I made pigs in blankets for Christmas lunch – over here they are sausages wrapped in bacon.

  10. Courtney, after a quick glance at your plate I thought that your tradition was eating all of the same colored foods for one meal. Then I read thru the post and understand and appreciate your ethnic heritage. I just had to let you know what my "pre coffee brain" thought upon first glance, lol!

    1. I know! There is no color in the food pictured on that plate. Though I’m sure it would be a delicious meal, I try to ‘Eat The Rainbow’ when I cook. Gotta have lotsa veggies too!

  11. I have seen so many variations on cabbage rolls – I love the idea of using the sauerkraut!!

    I really like the idea of the time capsule – that's something I've always wanted to do, but never have. I think I may have to start that tradition this year – since we're in a new home and all!

    Loved reading your guest post today! I loved reading it when you posted it here too : )

    God Bless you Courtney!!

  12. Thanks for sharing. How wonderful! May I ask what about Keith's family? How/when are they included? I ask because as a newlywed we are struggling with how to balance the holidays with each family. We have a great time & everyone gets along within my family, by my husband's family is full of stife–so I tend to want to spend as little time with them as possible (to lessen the opportunity for arguements, disagreements, insults, etc). I yield all my concerns to God, but wondered how you handled any of this.

  13. Anonymous,

    We do not do a big holiday celebration with Keith's side of the family. I know that it can be very hard – especially at the holidays – but it sounds like you are doing the right things.

    We suffer from some broken relationships on his side of the family. Much of it stems from multiple generations of divorce. Out of respect, I prefer not to discuss it on an open forum.

    But if you have questions you can email me privately at courtney@womenlivingwell.org

    Much Love,

  14. I have to laugh at the pic of the new year's meal. Every year my sister tries to "add some color" to that meal and we never do – it's an all white meal but soooo yummy!

  15. Oh my goodness! It is so awesome to see Jen and Kristen. Miss them! We don't really have any traditions… yet. Why didn't I know y'all were Hungarian?! Guess the connection between our parents makes even more sense now! Ha!

  16. I love the time capsule idea.

    Thank you for the recipe. I'm curious about the meal. Is it traditionally, intentionally lacking in color for a reason, or is that just how the traditional meal happens to be? I am a huge fan of food traditions and the etymology of them.


  17. Like another poster… when do you OPEN the time capsules? What a great idea! We may begin that this year with our new little one!

  18. Hallee- that's just the nature of the meal – along with what is on the plate that you see we have had white buttered noodles and apple sauce – again – with that white color – there's no symbolism…it's just ethnic. Sometimes we have salad so that adds a color lol!!!

    Kate- we waited 5 years before we began opening past time capsules so now we sit in a circle and put our stuff in and then we open one and remember – it's so fun!!! A lot happens and changes in 5 years! (you could wait longer if you wanted.)


  19. I love this idea, I am absolutely going to do this!
    We usually celebrate New Year's Eve with friends playing games and eating. New Year's day our little family writes out our desires and goals for the new year. How we want to grow spiritually, physically, try a new hobby, how to serve, what we are saving for, things like that. I make a 'tic tac toe' sheet 4×4 and hand one out to everyone, then I post it on the basement door as a reminder throughout the year what we are trying to aim for. Then we review what we actually did achieve.

  20. Love your time capsule idea. My hubby & I are expecting our first child in February. Think it would be a perfect tradition to start this year. Thanks for the idea. 🙂

  21. I love the time capsules idea. What do you do with them afterwards and when do you open them? Do you do a new one each year or add to the same one? I would love to know more about this!

  22. Jamie – I buy a new Quaker Oats can every year. So we have many cans stored in the basement in a tupperware bin. Then each year – we create our new one and then open an old one from 5 years ago. So for the first 5 years you don't open any…then when you hit year 6 you begin to open and remember – it's SO fun! We did it last night and it was wonderful walking down memory lane and remember God's goodness to us!

    Happy New Year!

  23. Awesome! My babies are 1 and 2, and my husband and I were just talking last night about wanting to create a fun tradition for the New Year. We currently don't have any with either of our families. His ideas definitely involved food and football, and he said I could add something sentimental if I wanted 🙂 So I think we might start doing a chili or chowder dinner with family on NY's Day, and I will definitely be incorporating the time capsule idea!! Thanks a lot!

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