Joy El New Year

Seniors served traditional pork, sauerkraut

Seniors served traditional pork, sauerkraut

January 01, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

GREENCASTLE, PA. - Some of the senior citizens seated at tables in the Joy El Ministries Dining Hall on Sunday said they had never heard of the Pennsylvania Dutch belief that eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's brings good luck throughout the coming 12 months.

Others had been raised with that notion, so traditions became a prominent conversation among the more than 225 people gathered for the free meal - a Joy El tradition since the 1970s.

"I'm at the point where if we don't have pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day, it doesn't seem right," Georgia Hoffeditz of Chambersburg, Pa., said.

She and her husband, Warren, ate across from John and Dionne Phillips of Chambersburg.

Dionne Phillips said she grew up in California an never heard of the ideas about pork and sauerkraut before moving to Pennsylvania.


"My grandmother always had black-eyed peas," she said. "That's supposed to bring good luck."

Tricia Shumate of Martinsburg, W.Va., said her husband, Don, insists that, for New Year's, she prepare cabbage, which becomes sauerkraut when thinly sliced and fermented.

"You've got to eat cabbage at New Year's, so you have money," Don Shumate said.

The group agreed that even more than Joy El's tasty meal, Sunday's event was about fellowship.

"People enjoy interacting and talking with each other," Joy El Ministries Executive Director Aaron Ziebarth said.

The event differs from many at the camp because it is geared toward older adults, rather than youths, he said.

"We focus it on our seniors to come and gather," Ziebarth said.

Crowds vary from year to year depending on weather, but 2006 marked one of the largest gatherings. The large turnout meant several tables were spread with the desserts everyone was asked to bring.

"A lot of people work hard to make their best," Ziebarth said.

Entertainment was provided by Chambersburg duo Burt Lange and Aldean Saufley, who performed hymns, older popular songs and comedy.

"It's a bigger crowd than we usually have," Lange said.

The meal was advertised through the media, senior centers and churches in the Tri-State area.

Many first-time attendees, including the Rev. Lorne and Evelyn Lichty of Greencastle, said they heard about the event at church.

Repeat visitors, like Bill and Elly Gardner of Chambersburg, have made the Joy El trip as much of a tradition as the food itself.

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