How much do you know about pretzels?

pretzelsThis article was originally published on March 3rd on my blog for our Religious Community, “Our Franciscan Fiat.”

Did you know that pretzels are a Lenten food?  Their shape is meant to resemble arms crossed in prayer or penance. has some interesting information about them.  They may be made using the simple ingredients of flour, yeast, water, and salt, not requiring eggs, milk or butter (which in times past had been forbidden during Lent).

This past week, along our St. Anne’s Activity Director, Shelly, I made soft pretzels for our residents’ afternoon snack after bingo.  Before this, our residents’ favorite pastime, Shelly read to them about the spiritual history of these “little arms” (Latin: bracellae)  We had fun throughout the games, joking about pretzels.  I especially enjoyed picking on (in fun) one of our ladies who could live on pretzels.  We even went so far as to have them call out “pretzel” instead of bingo.

In all seriousness, the sight of a pretzel can serve as a reminder to me and you of the call to prayer and penance, especially during Lent.

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

PS: I usually wear that goofy hat when I call bingo, but that’s a whole other story!

Homemade Soft Pretzel Recipe

1 and 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
4 cups flour
coarse sea salt for sprinkling


Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Mix all ingredients except coarse salt.  Knead dough well.  Let rest and raise for ½ hour.  Make long ropes and shape like pretzels.
Preheat oven to 375.  Boil for 30 seconds or more in a bath of baking soda and water(about ½ c. soda to 8 c. water).  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake on cookie sheets at 375 for 25 min. or until nicely golden. ​  You can serve them warm, and even add cinnamon and sugar.