Sunday, March 18, 2012

ENG BRETZEL VIR DECH! (Twists and turns ..)

Picture courtesy of - Oberweis is patisserie/confiserie in Luxembourg

Did you receive a pretzel today?

In Luxembourg, we celebrate “Bretzel Sonndeg” (Pretzel Sunday) on the fourth Sunday of Lent ("Halleffaschten"). It is tradition for men of all ages to buy the twisted confection for their beloved. If the girl is inclined to return the affection, she will gift him with a decorated egg on Easter. As mentioned in a previous post, since this year is a Leap Year, the roles are reversed and the ladies will be the ones giving out the pretzels.

The "Letzebuerger Bretzel" (see picture) is a deliciously sweet pastry topped with almonds, nuts or chocolate and coated in sugar. You can find it in bakeries and supermarkets.

Throughout time the looped pretzel was used as a symbol of love and prosperity in many traditions and festivals. On May 1, young men in Germany used to paint a pretzel on the door of the adored. It is also speculated that the term “tying the knot” originated when a pretzel was used to represent the unity of marriage. Today, in some areas, people give each other sweet pretzels on New Year’s Day for good luck.

The bread pretzel is considered in Christian communities a Lenten and Easter food (devoid of any forbidden ingredients). Many suggest that the pretzel’s shape is reminiscent of arms folded in prayer.

Some historians say that the pretzel is one of the oldest snack foods. Popular legend has it that in the 6th century an Italian monk (sources differ as to the time and place) made them out of leftover bread as a reward for children who learnt their prayers. By the 12th century the pretzel was an emblem of bakers. In the 1500s, pretzel bakers of Vienna were awarded their own coat of arms (depicting a pretzel and a lion) after saving the city from the Turks.

The first pretzels were soft but today they come in many different variations, cold, warm, chewy, hard, sweet or savory and in all shapes and sizes.

Pretzels were first introduced to the US in the 18th century by German and Swiss immigrants. American pretzels are a popular snack, they are often soft, bread-like or hard and crispy sprinkled with salt.

  • Pennsylvania is the center of the pretzel production
  • April 26 is National Pretzel Day in the US
  • In 2002 President George W. Bush choked on a pretzel and fainted but quickly recovered.
  • Marge Simpson owned a pretzel franchise in Episode 11 Season 8 of the Simpsons (The Twisted World of Marge Simpson)
  • The expression “these pretzels are making me thirsty” is a Seinfeld reference (The Alternate Side), meaning, this makes me angry
  • The pretzel is a move used in swing and square dancing
  • The word “pretzel” is used to describe an idea, an attitude or an image
Stories are aplenty but undoubtedly “Bretzel Sonndeg” is a lovely tradition and this twisted pastry is a delectable treat.

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