The pretzel indeed has its origins as an official food of Lent. However, much of the information available is based on tradition that has been handed down through the ages. According to pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover, a young monk in the early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one’s arms over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just like the big soft pretzels one can find today.
Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they were called bracellae, the Latin word for “little arms.” From this word, the Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar word pretzel.
Another possibility for the origins of the word pretzel is that the young monk gave these breads to children as a reward when they could recite their prayers. The Latin word pretiola means “little reward,” from which pretzel could also be reasonably derived.
Apparently, this simple Lenten food became very popular. Pretzels were enjoyed by all people. They became a symbol of good luck, long life and prosperity. Interestingly, they were also a common food given to the poor and hungry. Not only were pretzels easy to give to someone in need, but also they were both a substantial food to satisfy the hunger and a spiritual reminder of God knowing a person’s needs and answering our prayers.
Here we find another “fun” tradition of our faith, just like Easter eggs or hot cross buns. Starting March 3 after worship, Old First’s youth will join in this tradition by making pretzels to benefit the Heifer Project. Along with the pretzels we will be selling homemade mustard and spiced dips. Spice packets to prepare the dips at home and other goodies will also be sold.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
1. Bring in pre-made bread dough (found in your grocery freezer), mustard seeds or powdered mustard starting this Sunday, Feb. 24. Give the items to Mindy or Yajeh.
2. Be ready to purchase items to benefit the Heifer Project starting March 3 and continuing through March 24.
Dips and spice packets will include: Parmesan Herb Dip, Spicy Cajun Dip, Herb & Garlic Cheese Spread, Creamy Curry Dip, Ranch Dip, Sesame Cheese Dip, Hot & Spicy Mexican Dip.
$3.00 for one spice packet or 4 spice packets for $10.00
$3.00 for a pretzel with a side of mustard or prepared dip