Pretzel Sunday, or ‘Bretzelsonndeg,’ is celebrated on the fourth Sunday during Lent in Luxembourg. The actual date changes each year because it depends on Lent. Pretzel Sunday marks the middle of the Lenten season and can fall on any date between March 1 and April 4. Did you know? While some believe that the pretzel’s twist represents two lovers arm-in-arm, some believe that it symbolizes praying hands, and some claim the twisted pretzel’s three holes stand for the three entities of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
History of Pretzel Sunday
The fourth Sunday during Lent is traditionally known as Laetare Sunday, referring to the first word of the traditional mass introit of the day. It is also known as Mothering Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Rose Sunday, or Refreshment Sunday. Thanks to a traditional custom in Luxembourg, the day also has a special name, ‘Bretzelsonndeg,’ known in English as Pretzel Sunday.
A pretzel is a type of baked product made from water, flour, and salt, and is commonly shaped into a twisted knot. It may also be garnished with almonds, nuts, or chocolate. It’s a popular pastry in Austria, Germany, Alsace, and the German-speaking parts of Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Some sources claim that the term comes from the Latin word ‘brachium,’ meaning ‘arm,’ which then became the German word ‘bretzel’ or ‘brezel,’ and later evolved into the English word ‘pretzel.’ Some say they were originally called ‘bracellae,’ a Latin term meaning ‘little arms,’ from which German word ‘bretzel’ was later derived. Although there are several unreliable accounts of the origin of pretzel and its name, many believe that this unique baked food has Christian origins and was invented by European monks.
On Pretzel Sunday, a young man presents his romantic interest with pretzels or pretzel-shaped cakes as a sign of his affection. If the young lady wants to reciprocate the man’s feelings, she gives him a decorated chocolate egg on Easter Sunday in return. Otherwise, the girl returns a basket to the pretzel-giver as a sign of rejection. This explains the origin of the Luxembourgish expression, “de Kuerf kréien” (“to be given the basket”), meaning to be rejected. In leap years, the tradition is reversed: women present men with pretzels or cakes on Pretzel Sunday, and men reciprocate with eggs on Easter Sunday.
Pretzel Sunday timeline
An Italian monk decides to motivate his distracted catechism students by handing out baked treats twisted to resemble hands crossed on the chest in prayer — ‘pretiolas.’
The Bretzelsonndeg tradition begins in Luxembourg with women throwing pieces of wood into bonfires lit across the country while shouting out the names of their love interests on the day of Buergbrennen.
The first automated pretzel machine allowing for the mass-production of 245 pretzels per minute (about five tons a day) is created by the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company.
As a tribute to the contribution of pretzels to Pennsylvania’s history and economy, Governor Ed Rendell declares April 26 as National Pretzel Day.
Pretzel Sunday FAQs
Where was the pretzel invented?
History traces the origin of this pastry to A.D. 610 when an Italian priest baked it in an attempt to motivate his distracted catechism students. He crafted patterns that resembled crossed praying arms with long lumps of dough and baked them, and named them ‘pretiolas,’ which means “little rewards.”
Are pretzels healthy?
Pretzels contain high carbs and low fat and protein. They also contain traces of B vitamins and fiber, and are considerably lower in calories when compared to common snacks (such as chips). However, pretzels’ high salt content and the refined flour from which they’re made may make them unhealthy and may increase blood sugars.
Where are pretzels most popular?
Pretzels are a common, popular snack in the U.S. and Germany. On average, each American eats about two pounds of pretzels each year, and pretzels are a common sight at Munich’s annual Oktoberfest. Due to its large German population, Southeastern Pennsylvania produces about 80% of America’s pretzels., but Philadelphians consume about 12 pounds of pretzels per person every year.
Pretzel Sunday Activities
Bake homemade pretzels
You can make your own pretzels at home this Sunday. They are quite easy to make, and you can find several recipes online. You can make the dough the day before and store it in the refrigerator overnight. For best results, make sure you remove the dough from the refrigerator at least an hour before twisting.
Share on social media
If you’ve made your pretzels at home, share some photos of your creations on social media with the #pretzelsunday hashtag. You could also buy pretzels at any grocery store, bakery, or supermarket near you. Take a picture of your treat and share it on your social media channels to support the day.
Send some to your crush
Got secret feelings for someone and don’t know how to make them known? Well, Pretzel Sunday is the perfect moment to inform your crush. Visit a pastry shop near you to pick up some fresh pretzels, wrap them up, and send them to your crush with a beautiful love note. They’d definitely love it!
5 Interesting Facts About Pretzels
Home of pretzels
More than $550 million worth of pretzels are sold in the United States each year; and about 80% of the nation’s pretzel production is in Pennsylvania, which is home to roughly 45 pretzel companies.
Largest pretzel in the world
Pilsner of El Salvador currently holds the Guinness World Record for baking the largest pretzel when its massive pretzel weighing 1,728 pounds and measuring 29 feet 3 inches long by 13 feet 3 inches wide, won the prize in October 2015!
World’s pretzel-eating champion
Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut won the 2007 World Pretzel-Eating Championship after he ate 21 soft pretzels in 10 minutes!
Pretzels for Philadelphians
The average U.S. citizen consumes up to two pounds of pretzels per year, but Philadelphians snack on about 12 pounds of pretzels per person annually!
An emblem of good luck
An old German tradition encourages children to wear pretzels on a string around their necks at the beginning of a new year for prosperity, health, and good fortune.
Why We Love Pretzel Sunday
It has a beautiful history
Despite the pretzel’s uncertain origins and diverse etymology, Pretzel Sunday is a beautiful day in Lent to share the love, delicious food, and good wishes. Since pretzels contain no meat, eggs, cheese, or milk, many people consider them to be the ideal Lenten delicacy. For some, pretzels are more than just a delightsome pastry, they’re a sign of good fortune, and were used in old Germany and ancient Swiss weddings.
It’s time to share the love
Pretzel Sunday provides the perfect opportunity to express courting intentions known. If you’ve had romantic feelings for anyone and were afraid of making your feelings known, you could easily send them pretzels and they’ll get the message. Just pray you don’t get the basket at Easter!
Time to gobble sweet snacks
We know pretzels aren’t the healthiest snack choice out there, but who says we can’t indulge just this once? For those of us who observe the Lent fasting, we could munch some good pretzels in the evening just to feel good and savor the delicious pastry!
Pretzel Sunday dates