Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Doing Lent with Grandkids: The Pretzel Prayer Position

Sunset over Apalachicola Bay
We just got back from a trip to St. George Island, FL and Charleston, SC. It was a great break from the cold. When we left February 18th it was snowing in Woodstock. We returned to temps in the upper 60s and the very beginning of buds swelling with the promise of an early spring.

While I enjoyed every minute of our trip, I missed our grandchildren. The ones we see most frequently live only twenty minutes away and visit every week. We didn't see them for about two weeks before we left because they were passing around a bug and we certainly didn't want to pick it up and take it on our trip. So we hadn't seen them for over a month and were happy at the thought of their visit.

The youngest, Max, who is going on two wanted to call us often while we were away and say his newest word "tractor" to Paka. (We knew he meant, "Please take me for a ride on the tractor.") He calls me "Mom" and likes me to sing his special Max song which lately he has chimed in on when I reach "baby Max." At that age every day brings more words and phrases.

Whenever Max called, I said he and his sisters would have to come over and make pretzels after we got home. The girls eagerly agreed that was a good idea.

Well, we arrived home Monday night and Tuesday afternoon became pretzel day with the grandkids, an activity their mom remembers well from Lent growing up. Why pretzels in Lent? Because they look like little praying arms. In fact, the word pretzel comes from high German and means "little arms." The small breads are believed to have developed in the monastery.

So I pulled out my pretzel handout (I used to use it with my religion classes) and we made pretzels together. They did a great job rolling, shaping, and "painting" the pretzels with egg to get a nice brown color during baking. And here is what I read to them:
We said grace with our arms in pretzel prayer position
The Pretzel Story: Many years ago people, especially monks, prayed with their arms folded across their chests. During Lent they kept a very strict fast with only one meal a day and a few snacks to keep up strength -- usually bread. One day, a monk working in the kitchen took the bread dough and made it in pretzel shapes like little praying arms to remind his brother monks to devote themselves to prayer. When you eat a pretzel, let it remind you to pray like the early Christians.
Pretzel prayer: Dear Jesus, bless this little bread. Help it remind me to pray and do penance during this holy season of Lent. 
Pretzel Recipe: Dissolve one Tablespoon of dry yeast in 1 1/2 cups of very warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Mix well until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Add about 4 cups of flour (you can use a combination of white and whole wheat flour if you like). Knead dough until smooth. Roll in ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. Bake at 425 degrees about 15 minutes. For a browner shiny pretzel brush pretzels with beaten egg before baking. 
Enjoy making pretzels. Coming soon: Hot Cross Buns.

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