Family Activity for Lent: Making Pretzels
by Marcia Floding
Pretzels have an important meaning during Lent. Pretzels were made in the fifth century as a Lenten food in Austria, Germany, and Poland. People began to make them on Ash Wednesday, the very first day of Lent. The word "pretzel" is a German word meaning "little arms." The dough was shaped in such a way to look like two arms crossed in prayer.
Pretzels were made to take the place of bread, since milk, eggs, and fats were not used during Lent. On certain days during Lent it was the custom to give pretzels to the townspeople who were poor.
As a family, make some pretzels. Two variations for making pretzels are included at the bottom of this sheet. Enjoy the pretzels and let them remind you that Lent is a time of prayer. Before you eat the pretzels, say a prayer together:
Dear God, we ask you to bless these pretzels which we are about to eat. Each time we eat them may we be reminded that this is the season of Lent, a time of prayer. Help us to remember to pray for those who need our prayers each day. Keep your loving arms around us, O God, to protect us. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Adapted from "Pretzel Prayer," A Time of Hope: Family Celebrations and Activities for Lent and Easter,Morehouse-Barlow Co., Inc., 1979 (out of print).
1 1/4 cups water (85°)
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 1/2cups flour
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 teaspoons water or milk
Let yeast and sugar dissolve in water for one hour. Add flour to yeast mixture and beat until smooth. Knead mixture for seven to eight minutes. Place in a greased, covered bowl and let the dough rise until double in size. Divide the dough in half; then divide each half into smaller pieces of equal size. Roll each piece in your hands to make pencil shapes twelve (12) to fifteen (15) inches long. Shape each length of dough into pretzels (see the diagram). Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with egg yolk and water or milk mixture. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 325 degrees until lightly browned on top.
Frozen Bread Dough Pretzels
Thaw one loaf of frozen bread dough. Let the dough rise according to directions on the package. Divide the dough in half and place on a floured board. Cut each half into eight (8) equal pieces. Roll small pieces into strips about eighteen (18) inches long. Shape into pretzels (see the diagram). Place on a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of the pretzels with beaten egg yolk mixed with one (1) tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty (20) to thirty (30) minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Marcia Floding is a member of Third Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.