Catholic Recipe: Admiralpunsch (Admiral Punch -- New Year's Eve Punch)
The last day of the year is called "Sylvester" in Europe. This word is derived from the liturgical feast, celebrated on December 31, of St. Sylvester, pope and confessor, who died in the fourth century.
The end of the old and the beginning of the new year was, and still is, observed with popular devotional exercises. Special services are held in many churches on New Year's Eve to thank God for all His favors in the past year and to implore His blessings for the new one.
A distinctive feature of the traditional celebration is the feasting and merrymaking during the night, often combined with masquerades, singing, and noisemaking. This is a relic of the pre-Christian reveling in ancient Rome; its original significance was to salute the New Year and to drive the demons away.
The main item of Sylvester drinking is the punch bowl. Today we have quite a variety of punches. The modern form of punch originated in England in the early seventeenth century. It consists of alcohol, water, spice, sugar, fruit essence. The word seems to be an abbreviation of "puncheon," which was the name of the cask from which grog used to be served on English ships.
Mix sugar, wine, cinnamon, vanilla, peppercorn. Cover. Reserve 1 hour.
Remove peppercorn; pour into a saucepan. Boil wine, spices 20 minutes. Beat egg yolks with half-cup wine mixture. Add egg to wine and beat briskly in top of double boiler until foamy. Serve in demitasse with half slice lemon on rim of cup.Recipe Source: Catholic Cookbook, The by William I. Kaufman, The Citadel Press, New York, 1965