New Year’s Day has always been bigger for me than New Year’s Eve… In the Philadelphia region, it has huge family and community significance. It’s an open-house holiday for most families. You prepare traditional foods that can be eaten all day long, buffet style–like pork & sauerkraut, ham & bean soup, or ethnic dishes, cookies, cakes, pies, and candies–and you expect people to show up, with more food, more cookies, pies, cakes, and more candy. It’s the tradition!
Most Philadelphians also participate in another centuries-old local New Year’s tradition, the Mummer’s Parade–standing or, if they’re lucky enough to get tickets for the bleachers, sitting for hours in the cold, blustery January weather, along Broad Street from South Philly all the way around City Hall to Race Street. Folks spend the entire day watching the Parade until it gets so cold they need to find a bathroom and some hot food. Then they wander off to visit family, friends, and neighbors located close to the parade route. The number of trips back and forth between the parade and the various house parties will depend on the weather, the amount of clothing worn, the quality and quantity of the food, and the nature of their relationships with the host families. . .
If your house happens to be a major parade route stop, then you watch the parade on TV–for up to 12 hours, while you entertain family, friends, and neighbors and simultaneously watch the Bowl games. It’s an all-day, into-the-night event. New Year’s Day entertaining is a Philadelphia area tradition!
The Mummer’s parade tradition is a mutation of the 17th century Irish Mummers dramas, complete with extravagant, expensive, sequin-laden, feathered, cumbersome, and sometimes animated costumes, gender-bending roles, and large neighborhood associations, called clubs, that generate dedicated creative and musical talent, community funds, and prizes. Click this link for videos and photo albums, by year, of the Fralinger String Band, one of the most well known.