Bread and salt: meaning, cultural traditions, folk rituals and signs


How often do you receive guests, collect a table, arrange dinner parties or dinners? For this you need a special festive occasion, or is it enough just to have a good mood? The Russian people have always been famous for their hospitality, desire and ability to receive other people in their homes. Such hospitality has become not just a national character trait, but a part of our self-consciousness, mentality. Hospitality is otherwise called hospitality in the people. This word came from the fact that since ancient times it has been accepted to meet guests with bread and salt in Russia. But where did this tradition come from and what these foods symbolize, read the article.


Bread - around the head

How many proverbs and sayings do you know about bread? Certainly difficult to calculate. In Russian folklore, bread is one of the most significant symbols. It is precisely symbols, for several centuries it has turned from a simple food product, consisting of flour and water, into popular consciousness into a sign of the basis of something. Without bread, they didn’t start dinner, he had to be always on the table, and every housewife could bake a delicious loaf, the recipe of which was handed down from generation to generation, from grandmother to granddaughter, from mother to daughter.

Bread - special respect

As already mentioned, bread was not considered to be an ordinary, ordinary product in Russia, which is why they always treated it especially. So, bread crumbs from the table were never thrown away, but they were collected in a palm and burned in a furnace, or they had to be given to the birds for food. The loaf of bread, placed under the images, was considered a symbol of the unity of God with people - they believed that special grace would come to the house this way.


Do not overdo it!

And why exactly bread with salt, and for example, not bread with sugar or some other product? Firstly, salt appeared in Russia much earlier than other spices than the same sugar, for example. But not so early that it was considered to be a completely normal product that is used everywhere (well, as we have now). Salt in ancient times was a rather rare and expensive product, so they used it sparingly. As a rule, there was always some dish filled with salt on the table, but it was rarely taken from there. Such a salt shaker was used more as a charm. Bitter, she was called to scare away misery and misfortune.

House - full bowl

If bread and salt were brought to the family of the ancient Slav, then his house was considered safe. And how important it is to show your wealth, to demonstrate that this wealth is ready to share with others. Bread and salt in this case speak for themselves: "In this house it will be nourishing and warm, here you will be well received."


Best wishes

Among other things, to meet a guest dear with bread and salt means to wish him all the best: good, well-being, wealth. In this case, the loaf was served on a white, clean linen bench hammer, usually with a symbolic ornament, embroidered around the edges. This flax flap meant the road along which a person traveled to the house of the owners.

Refusing an invitation to bread and salt was strictly prohibited. This meant not only insulting the hosts. People believed that it was possible to incur great misfortune.


Hospitable blessing

Bread and salt have their meaning in the rite of blessing - for example, parental. If the father and mother wish their child to fulfill their plans, to fulfill their dreams, they give their blessing - that is, wish you luck in your endeavors. Such a custom of blessing children was often supported by certain actions: sometimes the mother gave her son a shirt embroidered with her own hand, in other cases the father gave her personal thing (for example, a weapon) to the child. One of the ceremonial actions was the offering of bread with salt. In some regions, the loaf was immediately broken to crumbs, which fell from it, picked up birds (good companions on the long road), in other areas, on the contrary, gave bread with them, so that there was something to eat along the way.


Instead of a notary

In addition, with the help of bread and salt could make a deal. The contract, supported by the hospitable meal, was considered inviolable - it was impossible to terminate it, and breaking the condition meant badly sinning before God. Take, for example, the contract between the parents of the bride and groom. If the matchmakers agreed to marry their children and supported the persuasion by eating each piece of one loaf, then the wedding between the young people should take place under any conditions.

A variation of the “bread” deal was an oath on the loaf - then each of the parties to the contract made their oath promise, assuring him that he had kept his right hand on the bread. Doesn’t it resemble a modern oath on the Bible or the Constitution (as the president does)?

One by one

Finally, it's time to eat a loaf! It was decided to divide it into everyone - everyone should get a piece of "happy bread". At the same time it was impossible to cut it - sharp objects "kill" all the miraculous power of bread, it is necessary to eat it only with the help of hands - well washed and dry. And necessarily after the prayer.

By the way, to divide into all means not just breaking off a piece for each family member. Each time there was also a glimpse for the brownie. Superstitions played a big role in the families of the ancient Slavs, so many housewives always put black bread with salt behind the stove - in order to appease the brownie who lives in this corner.

And you enjoy your meal ….

If at dinner someone suddenly shouted loudly: “Bread and salt”, do not worry. It was he who simply turned into a medieval resident of Russia. After all, these were the words that were usually pronounced when you want to wish you bon appetite. Jacob Reitenfels, a seventeenth-century historian and traveler from Kurland, wrote that this is how the Muscovites drive away evil forces. The magical meaning of the expression "bread and salt" was believed for a very long time. It was also considered good form to pronounce this phrase after the meal - as a sign of gratitude and again so that unkind spirits could not harm the person.

Ah, this wedding, the wedding, the wedding sang and danced ….

Do you often come to weddings? For regular visitors to this celebration, for sure, the tradition of giving the newlyweds a large festive loaf is familiar. But it's not just the way to meet the bride and groom with bread and salt. The meaning of this custom is that the parents of the future husband (and it was originally on the threshold of their house that the spouses should have been welcomed) willingly accept the daughter-in-law to their family, they want to see her in their home as a new member of the family.

In addition, the groom's parents meet the newlyweds with a loaf, which, incidentally, should be baked by the future mother-in-law, the mistress of the house. And the groom and the bride bite off a piece of bread, without resorting to hands. Then all present look, who from spouses has bitten off from a loaf more. The one whose bite turned out to be larger, according to belief, will be the boss in the house, will become the head of the family. Of course, usually, due to physiological characteristics, the man bites off more bread, he admits to the head at home, the woman gets the modest role of the neck.


Loaf, loaf, whom you love choose!

Bread can be very different: rye or wheat, with cereals or raisins, malt, poppy seeds, sweet, salty, soft, stale … One thing is always the same: it's not just a bakery product prepared according to a specific recipe. Real bread is baked by the mistress with a soul, she always puts a special message into her work, so that later she can pass it on to those who will try this bread.

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