The ritual of bread and salt

An ancient custom that has made its way into modern society

52w ago

Bread. In many parts of the world it is considered to be the most basic food. It is made using only very few ingredients, which are not only very affordable but also easy to store over longer periods in all kinds of climates.

Salt. Today, you can find it in almost every household around the planet. But it is not its taste that has made salt so important. Without the discovery of its uses, the world would have developed in a much slower pace. Salt gave humanity the power to preserve food, which has not only allowed us to survive harsh winters but also made it possible for discoverers to spend weeks and months at sea without starving to death.

Bread and salt have become so important that many cultures have developed customs involving the two things we usually take for granted on a daily basis.

Many religious texts such as the bible use bread and salt as symbols for life. In the middle ages, bread and salt were believed to protect you from dark magic. Some middle eastern countries still welcome guests with bread and salt. In northern Germany, bread and salt are even sometimes wrapped into babies' diapers to wish them a happy future. (Please don't cover your kids' diapers in salt now. I doubt that it's a pleasant feeling for them.

The most common custom involving bread and salt, however, is to give both things to neighbors, friends and family who have just moved into a new house or apartment. I have recently experienced that this tradition still exists and I was grateful for the gift of bread and salt. It's such a nice gesture!

Are any customs involving bread and salt practiced in your part of the world?

We would love to hear all about them in the comments!

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Comments (15)

  • I have never heard of giving bread and salt to a new neighbor. Why is this a thing? good luck?

      11 months ago
    • Yes, exactly. The bread for always keeping you fed and the salt for the spice in your life! Also, there is a saying in Germany that you'll run out of money when you run out of salt.

        11 months ago
    • Interesting post. Thanks!

        11 months ago
  • This was a new and interesting tradition to me that I experienced roughly two years ago. My wife and I purchased a vacation cabin out on the local lake, and I hosted my BBQ team there on a test cook prior to a competition. Our team captain, from Germany, brought a very good loaf of bread and a small container of salt as gifts to celebrate our new place.

      11 months ago
  • Loved this Marcus. Also, I love nothing more than an amazing sourdough, some proper butter, and some salt flakes sprinkled on top. Heaven.

      11 months ago
  • The Red Wedding, they're calling it. Walder Frey committed sacrilege that day. He shared bread and salt with the Starks. He offered them guest right. The gods will have their vengeance... Frey will burn in the seventh hell for what he did.

      11 months ago
    • Oh right, they also used the symbol of bread and salt! After all, both things are very useful when winter is coming...

        11 months ago
  • Interesting read, Marcus.

    I'll definitely remember the salt on the diapers idea. I was wondering how you keep diapers anti-bacterial.

      11 months ago
    • Thanks, John.

      It‘s probably a good idea. You won‘t ever have to change the diaper, simply add more salt.

        11 months ago