Kitchen Witch: Bread & Grains 1.3
Bread has also had its magical uses. In seventeenth-century England, a loaf of bread was floated on the surface of the water to find the body of a person who had drowned. Midwives placed bread into a woman’s bed while she was in labour to prevent the theft of both the woman and her baby.
In contemporary Greece, men being inducted into the army are sometimes given pieces of bread, which are thought to confer protection and victory in battle. Field workers in Greece may pack a bit of bread with their lunch. It isn’t eaten at midday, but only upon safe return to the home each evening. A small piece of bread secreted under children’s pillows guards them while they sleep.
In other parts of Europe, bread is formally presented to children as soon as they recognize it. This ritual blesses the infant with food for its entire lifetime. Carpathian Gypsies carried small pieces of bread in their pockets to avoid danger and trouble during their continuing journeys.
British and American folklore still acknowledge the potency of bread. When moving into a new home, many carry in a loaf of bread and salt, for continued food and luck, before moving anything else. Other superstitions related to the baking, slicing and eating of bread still survive in our technological lives.
Food historians speculate that humans have eaten bread in one form or another since at least the late Stone Age. Raised (yeast) breads were probably first made in Egypt in around four thousand B.C.E. As we rediscover the value of grains and add them to our diets, it’s enriching to know the wonders once ascribed to these simple foodstuffs that have been worshipped as life-giving gifts from the forces that watch us from above