Today is National Pretzel Day across this great land of ours. I hope you are celebrating. You may be wondering why this matters to me, or even how I am aware of this most unremarkable occasion. It's simple really. I have a friend I have mentioned here many times - Lisa Jewett - who is a first grade teacher. Lisa knows every strange holiday and celebration because she uses them all as teaching moments in her classroom. So Tuesday I went with her to Target to buy some pretzels for her class in honor of this day, and I was told the following story about the invention of the pretzel. I thought it was pretty cool, and so I share it here today. Actually she demanded that I share it and threatened me if I didn't! I will warn you that I did no research on this- I am trusting Lisa. So think of this as the Wikipedia version of the story. It may be wrong, but it sure is convenient!
In 610 AD a French monk (he may have been Italian, but Lisa says French so we are going with it!) wanted to create a treat to give the children of the church for learning their prayers. The idea for the design of the pretzel came from the position the children would assume while saying the prayers. They would cross their arms across their chests, with each hand on the opposite shoulder. This became the model for the crisscross in the traditional pretzel, like the one pictured at the top. The name came from the French word (or Italian) for pretzel, which means "small treat." The monk began passing out these treats to the children who learned their prayers, and a significant connection between snack food and faith was born. Catholics later incorporated them as a Lenten snack, and in fact used to hide pretzels at Easter right along with the eggs. I have no idea when they migrated to Germany (where I had assumed they came from to begin with) or became so closely associated with beer, but once they did they also became a part of Lutheran heritage. Who knew the pretzel had such a diverse religious heritage?
All of this pretzel talk has me wanting one of the big, hot soft pretzels from a NYC street vendor- with mustard. I really need to get some place around here (besides movie theaters) to sell those wonderful things, and perhaps return them to their Christian significance as well. I'm looking at you, Chick-fil-A! Evangelicals need their own snack food! Have a marvelous NPD, my friends! And please address all corrections to Lisa...
Because of Jesus,