Sauerbraten – A Christmas Tradition

My informant is my mother, remembering a Christmas tradition that has been passed down generations.

“As far  back as I remember every Christmas night family dinner was sauerbraten. Sauerbraten is a German meal. It is a roast beef with sweet gravy mashed potatoes and usually carrots. Part of my family is German.
Every year we had to help my mom make the meal. The meat would be marinated two days before Christmas. The marinade is what makes the gravy gravy is the best part. We would only have this meal once a year on Christmas day which would make it special.  So special that when I had my own family we would have the same meal sauerbraten Christmas Day.. so special that my three siblings would have have the same Sauerbraten Christmas day meal.  The meal would be something we could talk about even though we all left lived in different states. All of us being careful to make double the gravy because the gravy is the best part.”


This tradition is a part of keeping the identity of family alive by performing this tradition and sharing it with her family. The recipe had been passed down from generation and is a German tradition to have at Christmas time. Performing this tradition is part of keeping in touch with German past and the traditions that stayed over time. It is important to the performers because of performing it among family and at such a specific and important time of year. Meals are a very common tradition to pass down and recipes even more so. This particular recipe had been amended and changed over the decades by many hands, as each sibling has a photocopy of a handwritten recipe card.