People have been trying to watch their diets more and more over the years. But for many cultures, like the Greek culture, wheat has been one of the most important ingredients used for cooking since Ancient times; and of course one of the most basic foods made with wheat is bread.
One of the most important times of the year is that of Christmas. This time of year is was very important even before the birth of Christ because it is during this time that “the end of night” begins. What I mean by this is that during Christmas is when nighttime starts to shorten and daytime starts to become longer.
As you can imagine this was a very important thing for the Ancient Greeks who didn’t have any electricity. It meant that they had an abundance of light which gave the opportunity to become more productive. It meant the end of darkness and the beginning of light… and with it came, working in the fields, the harvest and a whole new cycle of life.
This is why there are so many important holidays during this time in so many different cultures. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia, in honor of the deity Saturn… the Egyptians honored the sun god Ra…. the Mesopotamians honored Marduk and the Greeks honored Adonis and Dionysus.
The same applied for the Aztecs and the Persians. Any civilization on Earth always celebrated and honored the Sun and the Light during this time… This is also why it was decided to celebrate Christmas in this time period.
Since the Sun and the Light go hand in hand with food, seeing that all plants need light in order to grow, these celebrations were always very closely related to food. This included sacrifices and offerings to the gods to ensure successful crops.
Since wheat was one of the most important ingredients and bread was one of the most important foods for the Ancient Greeks, their most classic offering to the gods at this time, was bread. They were quite enhanced breads made with fine quality flour (that as sifted), spices, honey or grape must along with dried fruits and nuts.
This is where this Christmas bread began and after going through many different changes over the years, it has finally made its way to us today!
It is a fabulous sweetbread that is made a few days before Christmas and it is loaded with so much flavor as well as history…
According to tradition, it has a cross made out of dough in the center and it has whole walnuts and almonds in it that represent abundance. It also has other shapes made out of dough which portray animals, births, fruit, stacks of wheat, a plow, a house etc….
Another important thing about this particular bread is never cut with a knife but only with your hands. Since the knife is made out of metal and can hurt the bread…
Find the recipe for Christmas Hot Cross Bread, make it and enjoy it with your whole family and think back to its history that I shared with you…