Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 04 June |
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

The spiritual meanings behind 3 classic European breads



KRUH IN RIBE – Ta simbol spominja na čudež pomnožitve kruha in rib, a hkrati ponazarja tudi evharistijo.

Cerith Gardiner - published on 07/25/20

Here's why bread is so much more than a carb hit.

What can God do in your life with one Bible verse a day?
Subscribe to Aleteia's new service and bring Scripture into your morning:
Just one verse each day.
Click to bring God's word to your inbox

Most people try to avoid eating too many carbs these days, but there’s nothing quite like a lovely warm loaf of bread fresh from the oven with your topping of choice (although you can’t beat a simple helping of butter and jam!).

What makes it even more difficult to resist this tasty treat is the huge variety of breads available, like those featured in Many have their origins in Europe. where some bread shapes came about due to physical restrictions in ovens or baking times. The famous French baguette, for example, got its thin long shape due to the reduced number of hours bakers were able to work during the reign of Louis XIV. Other breads have a little more symbolism and spiritual meaning. Here are just a few.

Read more:
How to make bread from the time of the Bible

The pretzel from Germany

This irresistible snack stems from Germany and was first called a “brezel.” It is said that back in the Middle Ages, monks made up the heart-shaped bread as a reward for children who’d learnt their prayers — that might inspire some adults today, too! Another story says that a group of bakers came up with the twisted loaf before being released from prison. Interestingly, bakers in southern Germany have been using the pretzel as their emblem since the 12th century. The added bonus of the popular snack is that due the lack of eggs or dairy products in the recipe, it could be eaten during the stricter Lenten fasts of previous centuries.

By Alewtincka | SHUTTERSTOCK

Pan Gallego from Spain

This is the bread of pilgrims. Apparently locals would hand out a loaf of bread to pilgrims as they made their way along St. James’s Way to reach Santiago de Compostela. The heavier type of bread, first made in Galicia, would offer sustenance and comfort. Thanks to the way the loaf was prepared, through a process of slow fermentation and low salt levels, the bread could last an impressive month before going stale.

Zopf from Switzerland

There’s a bittersweet meaning behind this plaited Swiss bread: When a husband died in ancient times, his wife would mourn her husband by cutting off her braided hair and placing it on his grave. As times went on, the plaited hair was replaced with bread that had been styled in the shape of a braid; this was then buried with the husband. Although this story remains a very sweet legend, the bread has been in circulation since 1430 and is still recognized today as a sign of love and gratitude.

Here’s a five-star recipe for the Swiss Zopf bread if you’d like to try making this 800-year-old token of love.

Manfred Scheibelauer | CC BY 4.0


Read more:
Wait, give us this day our what kind of bread?

Religious symbolism
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.