Here we are at the end of yet another amazing and eventful year, ready to welcome 2018! For my family, we will continue our tradition of joining together on New Year's Eve, playing games, eating some of our favorite foods, and ending the night banging on pots and pans in the middle of the cul-de-sac at midnight. I always start the new year watching the famous Rose Parade, then we continue the day bouncing around from house to house visiting, watching movies and playing board games, basically just soaking up the last of the holidays and spending time together as a family before life has to go back to normal again.
In 1870 the same year Lizzie’s Heritage Inn was built by my great-great-grandparents, families would have had a slightly different take on ringing in the New Year…
New Year’s Day was a day for gentlemen—especially young, eligible bachelor gentlemen—to go from house to house making New Year’s Day calls. Ladies would get together to hold open houses on New Year’s Day, with punch and buffet snacks at various homes. The men would go from house to house sampling the food and punch, and leave a calling card and sign an autograph book at every home they visited.
The Des Moines Leader newspaper listed before New Year’s in 1874 that:
“Our New Year’s callers will not be disappointed this year, for the ladies will very generally throw open their houses, and New Year’s will be a merry day. The following ladies will receive at their homes . . .”
Thanks to the Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project historic food research site, we are able to share with you a punch recipe for your own celebration. The recipe can be served with or without alcohol. It is from La Cuisine Creole, published in New Orleans by Lafcadio Hearn in 1885.
A Fine Temperance Beverage
To the juice of a dozen lemons put one pound and a half of double refined sugar, and a picked quart of raspberries or strawberries; pare a ripe pineapple and slice it, put over it half a pound of sugar, stir the lemon juice with the sugar, crush in the berries slightly bruise the pineapple and chop it up in small pieces.
Put the lemon juice in a large punch bowl, add to it three quarts of ice water, then put in the strawberry and pineapple juice, stir it until all the sugar is dissolved, and then set it on ice.
Serve in punch glasses.
Add to the above mixture a bottle of champagne, and a bottle of white wine, and you have a very delicious punch for festive occasions!