Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our Daily Bread: The Pretzel

The pretzel is a very ancient bakery item, which traditionally was eaten only during Lent. It appeared each year on Ash Wednesday and disappeared on Good Friday. It goes back at least to the fifth century. This image from a Roman manuscript in the Vatican Library, dating from that period, shows pretzels: they are on the table, surrounding the fish.
As to the shape: the pretzel is made in the form of two arms crossed in prayer. The word bracellae, “little arms,” became in German Bretzel, then Pretzel.
These early Christians ate no dairy products in Lent, so the pretzel was made only of flour, salt, and water: it was as simple as it could be.
(This text [updated by the addition of the image] and the recipe for pretzels are from A Continual Feast p. 180. We also saw a pretzel at the feet of Lent, on the post on "The Battle between Carnival and Lent.")

Today’s gospel (Matthew 6:7-15) teaches us how to pray, calling God by the intimate title of: Our Father. It gives the powerful reminder that “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” What an intimate friendship we can have with Our Heavenly Father who knows our dearest needs! Let us be sure to fold our own little arms in prayer this Lent reciting the Our Father with more reverence and thinking of each of the powerful petitions it contains when we say it.


  1. A propos prayer: To paraphrase St Ambrose, in such deep prayer the soul hears the voice of Him it cannot see and with it feels profoundly the presence of the Divine.

  2. Those are the sweetest pretzels I ever saw! Talk about beautiful little arms in prayer!

  3. those were pretty tasty. better than the NYC vendor pretzels which are good for the first two bites, then somehow, magically, get disgustingly stale.