For many in Napa Valley and throughout the country, New Year’s Eve celebrations cap off a trio of beloved holiday traditions.
Of course, if you’re a big fan of Halloween and treat that as an unofficial “holiday” then you could make that a foursome! Either way, after Thanksgiving, then Christmas, our tradition of ringing in the New Year ranks quite high on the list of reason to celebrate and to have a party.
And, when one attends or hosts a party, they expect to partake of party snacks.
New Year’s: An Ancient Tradition Everywhere Except in America
It’s been noted by historians that civilizations have been celebrating New Year’s Day since the beginning of known written records going back to the ancient Babylonians over 4,000 years ago.
But the January first date that we hold as the beginning of each new year is a relatively “new” observance.
For example, according to an article on the website at History.com,
“Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese New Year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.”
For some reason, however, Americans living in the United States were late to the party, as it were, when it came to New Year’s Eve celebrating.
As one source describes it, it wasn’t until around the start of the 1900s that New Year’s Eve celebrations in America started to appear. And the first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. It was also around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on the first of January.
One explanation is that, in Europe, the mid-winter period was traditionally associated with feasting and parties. And in the early years of the American colonies and within the United States, these types of celebrations were mostly frowned upon, particularly by religious communities.
Seems they had already had a few bad office party experiences by the time the 1600s had rolled around!
But when the celebrations began in earnest in the early 1900s, they were right back at it apparently.
[Sketch by Marguerite Martyn – St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 4, 1914]
Traditional and Not-So-Traditional New Year’s Eve Party Snack Ideas
One of the best things about holidays are traditions. And in the U.S., there are several traditions around our New Year’s celebrations.
One newspaper story relates that the phrase, “Ring out the old, ring in the new,” dates to the middle of the 1800s, and offers a hint about early American celebrations of New Year’s Eve. At some point before 1880, churches greeted the new year at midnight by ringing their steeple bells.
For example, beginning on the radio in 1929, bandleader Guy Lombardo and his band were well known for their annual New Year’s Eve broadcast from New York City. And it was their signature performance of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight that helped make the song synonymous with New Year’s Eve.
Ironically, however, “Auld Lang Syne” was already a well-known song and considered old-fashioned even in the 1800s. Being a much beloved song, it was sung in public usually more than once a year but rarely, if ever, on New Year’s Eve until Guy Lombardo in the late 1920s.
Another tradition of this particular holiday is the venerable New Year’s Eve party. And, with that, the inevitable cavalcade of New Year’s party snacks.
For some of us, images of holiday parties filled with laughing – and often drinking – adults milling about in the 1950s might include some of the following:
- Miniature Pigs in Blankets
- Jell-O Mold Salad
- SPAM and cheese ribbon loaf (Yes, it was a thing…)
- Swedish Meat Balls
- Crackers topped with Cheez Whiz and olive slices
And there were doubtless dozens of other popular and common party snack delights served up on New Year’s Eve in parties past.
Fast forward to 2022 and many vintage snack favorites still make a showing at parties along with delectable “new” treats. For example, Delish magazine tells us that some of the following finger foods are spot on for today’s New Year’s Eve parties:
- Baked Feta Bites
- Crab Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
- Pigs In a Blanket (Well, sometimes “old is new”…)
- Shrimp Cocktail
- Crab Cake Poppers
We’ve borrowed one recipe for these delicious Loaded Cheese Ball Bites that is both simple and delectable.
- YIELD: 18
- PREP TIME: 15 mins
- TOTAL TIME: 75 mins
- 8 slices bacon
- 1 1/2 (8-oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
- 1 c. shredded cheddar
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 c. freshly chopped chives
- 1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
- 18 pretzels sticks
In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon until crispy, 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate, then finely chop. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic powder, and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Use a cookie scoop to form mixture into 18 small balls and transfer to a parchment–lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
In a shallow bowl, stir together bacon, chives, and pecans.
Roll balls in bacon-chive-pecan mixture, insert a pretzel stick into each, and let come to room temperature 15 minutes before serving. (If not serving right away, loosely cover with plastic wrap and return to fridge.)
Sometimes New Year’s Eve Party Snacks are Sweet Treats
Macarons, Petit Fours and Truffles!
One of the premier venues in Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort will be making these classic sweets for their guests at their New Year’s Eve Part at the Mansion. Even if you can’t make it because you’ll be throwing a bash of your own at your “mansion” you can still thrill to the delight of scrumptious macarons!
This recipe, courtesy of Preppy Kitchen and author John Kanell, will make it a breeze to create.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 36 Macarons
For the Cookie
100 g egg whites room temperature 3 large eggs
140 g almond flour 1 1/2 cups
90 g granulated sugar just under 1/2 cup
130 g powdered sugar 1 cup
1 tsp vanilla 5mL
1/4 tsp cream of tartar 800mg
For the Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter softened 226g
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar 100g
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp water 30mL
1 pinch salt
For the Macarons:
- Sift the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
- Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
- Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
- Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
- The final mixture should look like flowing lava and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and start piping.
- Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
- Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
For the French Buttercream Filling:
- Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
- Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
- Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
- Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.)
- Add food coloring if desired.
- Pipe your filling onto the back of half the shells. Form a sandwich and repeat.
- Macarons should be aged in the fridge for 1-3 days for best results. This allows the filling to soften the shells inside.
(*For recipe notes and more information, check out Mr. Kanell’s blog post here.)
Ring in the New Year with Great Foods and Wine from Cal Mart
You’ll find Cal Mart conveniently located in the “holiday bright” heart of downtown Calistoga, which is situated between State Route 128 and the world-famous Silverado Trail.
Cal Mart has been a part of the City of Calistoga’s landscape for over five decades and has become a destination stop for local and visitors alike during that time.
We are a family-owned and independent grocery store and have become known as “Napa Valley’s Finest Grocery.” With our vast selection of unique and hard-to-find wines, craft beers, and specialty food items, Cal Mart has provided a unique and enjoyable shopping experience for customers for more than half a century now. And we are understandably proud of our community here and our own reputation.
This is why we work hard to continue earning the patronage of our loyal customers and friends.
It is our love for what we do and our long-standing commitment to service that is foundational to the quality of our store and our products.
In addition to all the tasty ingredients for your sure-to-dazzle New Year’s party snacks, Cal Mart features tastes of many nations in our gourmet cheese department, a superb delicatessen, a huge selection of quality wines, a diverse and impressively wide variety of craft beers.
Looking for special gift items to complement your New Year’s snack selections?
Discover our fresh and colorful stock of flowers and indoor plants that perfect for any occasion – or the holidays! In addition, we offer beautiful gift baskets, décor items, and much more. We invite you to take time to explore all that we have to offer.
Make it a point to visit our deli and take a moment to talk with our knowledgeable staff. And while you’re there, be sure to stop by our Coffee Bar a delicious cup of coffee or tea.
Cal Mart for the holidays – where you will always find something that is unexpected, unusual, and uncommon!