“Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.”
New Year’s is the oldest holiday still being celebrated. The Babylonians celebrated the new year as early as 4000 B.C. and today different countries are homes to some of the most unusual traditions and superstitions when it comes to ringing in the New Year. Many believe that if on New Year’s Day they organized a gathering of family and friends and ate a very large meal, it would signify prosperity and they would have plenty of food for the coming year. Centuries ago, good housewives used to ensure that the family began the New Year with a spotlessly clean house and well-catered table. As a result houses and kitchens were thoroughly looked after as it signified a fresh, good start to the New Year. Nowadays it is hard to imagine, but the lack of food or absence of certain ingredients just only a 100 years ago – when lethal hunger was always just one or two small crops away – was the reason why many European New Year traditions had food as the center of attention.
“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” Edith Lovejoy Pierce
Whilst many other cultures believe that making a lot of noise and food at the stroke of midnight scares away evil spirits and bad luck, people in Ireland on the New Year’s Day represents the spirit-chasing by breaking a loaf. Rich, beautiful cakes were baked especially just to be smashed against the door by the man of the house as a painful sacrifice, to drive out any misfortune in an effort to let happiness in and to banish hunger from the land in the new year. Sometimes, it is first bitten into three times to represent the holy trinity. The day is also known as Day of the Buttered Bread or Sandwich. Tradition says the buttered bread placed outside the front door symbolizes an absence of hunger in the household, and breaking it what presumably preserve the wealth for the year to come. Families would visit each other, eating a bit at each visit. Everyone hosted at home, everyone prepared baked gifts and everyone took time to visit the other households. Making edible gifts is a celebrated activity of the modern housewife too, and recipes that summarize many traditions in the final baked goods are preferred way of giving, like these mini salted crescents that include the bread and the butter…
“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare
to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.” Aberjhani
500 g fine flour
250 g butter
250 ml soured cream
20 g fresh yeast
Combine ingredients and knead until a smooth, elastic consistency is achieved. Let it rise for 30-60 minutes. To make the crescents divide into 8 equal pieces and form small balls. Roll each into a very thin disc, and cut into 8 equal triangles. Roll each triangle (start at the wide side and roll towards pointy end). Place crescents on lined baking tray, brush with milk and let it rest and rise in a warm place. Bake in preheated, 190 degrees C oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
These crescents can also be made yeast-free with using eggs and oil, by combining 2 eggs, 300 ml milk, 150 ml oil (or melted butter or melted pork fat), a pinch of baking powder and about 600 g flour.
“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul.”