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Bread in religions

Contribution about bread that makes immortal and divine punishments for "bread crimes" ...

Bread was a symbol of the gods in early times. The Greeks paid homage to the goddess Demeter, responsible for agriculture and fertility. According to the myth, she is said to have taught people how to grow grain and how to bake bread. Its Roman counterpart is called Ceres. The word "cereal" was derived from the name of the goddess Ceres. With the Teutons, Freyr was the god of seeds, harvests and fertility as well as of peace.

Many peoples used to believe in a "bread of life" that confers immortality. The Greeks called this bread "Ambrosia", the Jews mentioned the bread of life as early as the time of the Babylonian captivity, around 550 years before Christ. So it was nothing new for people when Jesus later spoke of a bread that confers immortality. At that time, however, the approach of calling oneself the bread of life and claiming that it symbolizes the body of Christ was scandalous (Bible, John 6:35: “I am the bread of life”).

In the past, special breads were baked for religious celebrations. The most famous of these is the Christstollen, which in terms of shape and surface symbolizes the baby Jesus lying in diapers and which used to be a leaner pastry for the Christian Advent fasting. At that time it was only allowed to be baked from oats, water and beet oil. For Jewish believers, unleavened flatbread, the so-called matzo, still plays a role at the Passover festival today, as a reminder of the exodus from Egypt. The Bible justifies this with the fact that in the hasty flight there was no time for the souring of the dough.

Earlier generations crossed every piece of bread before it was cut. Bread placed on the threshold on Christmas Day was said to have a protective function for the house. The bread, which was baked from the first flour from the new harvest, was supposed to protect against hunger as "lucky bread". Often it was brought to the poor. And a bread under the pillow of pregnant women promised a happy birth. Bread was also broken over newborn babies so that they could thrive.

Special respect for bread was also shown in the so-called “home bread”, which used to be baked before a long hike and which was only salted with tears. According to the belief of the time, anyone who put bread on their back was threatened with misfortune and even today, some elderly people can hardly imagine swearing in the presence of bread, while respect for bread has rapidly diminished in subsequent generations and is still often absent today. The present-day, often careless and wasteful use of bread was still called "bread crime" in the Middle Ages, on which there was a divine punishment.

In many religions, bread is therefore by no means just presented as food, but rather as something divine. The theologian and doctor Angelus Silesius (1624 - 1677) summarized the belief of many people in a religious meaning of the loaf as follows: “The bread does not nourish you. What feeds you in the bread is God's eternal word, is life and is spirit. "And still today around 2.3 billion Christians worldwide pray:" Our daily ‘bread gives us today"