With Easter and Passover upon us, let’s slow down and think about why it’s so important to “break bread” together. First, Americans rarely eat together. The average American eats one in five meals in their car, and one in four Americans eats at least one fast food meal a day. Additionally, most American families report eating a single meal together less than five days a week. * Lack of family meals results from our hectic lives, excessive schedules and increasing use of our digital devices. Modern times have disconnected us from the sacred value of food and eating together. Over time, we have seen its direct adverse effects on the health of our society.
“Breaking bread together” is an expression that you have surely heard many times and in multiple contexts. It is used to express sharing a meal with someone. Additionally, breaking bread can be a way to celebrate, bond, and make amends. However, breaking bread goes beyond the sharing of physical food; it’s often about getting together with people to make a meaningful connection. During this connection, we really see each other. The boundaries of ethnicity, culture and race are collapsing, and we are learning cooperation and acceptance. As we engage in the process of nurturing ourselves around the table, we can’t help but recognize everyone’s presence and uniqueness.
One of the most primitive activities is eating. When we share this activity as a group, we connect more deeply to our human existence. Sharing a meal satisfies our physical, mental and spiritual hunger. It is a symbol in all religions as it is both a means of supporting the body and a reminder of elemental blessings. It is one of the most unified needs and processes we have as humans. If we stop seeing ourselves that way, our relationships diminish and our community and connectedness crumbles.
Bake the bread then break the bread
One way to bond as a family is to bake bread together first. During Easter in my childhood, I remember making Paska bread with my mother. Paska bread is a Ukrainian Easter bread brought to our family by my Hungarian-Austrian paternal grandmother, Mary. Every year we make the bread on Maundy Thursday and bring it to church for the blessing of Easter baskets on Holy Saturday morning. We always offer extra breads to family and friends. An Easter tradition that I still perpetuate for my young family.
Bread is one of the only traditions that has transcended nationalities and time. Countries around the world have baked and broken bread for millennia much the same way we do today. Whether around a table or in the dirt, it’s usually part of a meal with others. Jesus shared bread with his apostles at one of the most historic meals of all time, the Last Supper. I urge you to invite someone new to your table to break bread this season. Ask them what family stories they have about “breaking bread” together, and enjoy the connection created around a simple yet complex loaf of bread.
*Delistraty, Cody C., The Importance of Eating Together, July 18, 2014, TheAtlantic.com.
JoAnne Pavin is an integrative wellness consultant, speaker and founder of The Meal magazine – a quarterly publication that inspires people to slow down and connect around the meal experience. She has over two decades of experience providing personalized wellness services to individuals and businesses integrating nutrition education, fitness, meditation and mindset training to promote healthier and more balanced lifestyles. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, is a certified Ayurveda and Yoga practitioner with Ayurvedic studies from the International Academy of Ayurveda in Prune, India. Additionally, she is a Certified Weight Management Consultant, Optimize Coach, Registered Massage Therapist, and Registered Yoga Instructor through Yoga Alliance. To learn more about Creative Day Renewal retreats on Marco, visit www.joannepavin.com or contact her at [email protected]
JoAnne Pavin is neither a doctor nor a psychologist, and her recommendations do not replace conventional medicine, diagnosis or treatment. Any recommended foods, herbs or nutritional advice are not medicines and may require professional medical or psychological examination before the person can receive them.
Makes two loaves of bread
2 cups whole milk
1 stick of organic butter
6 eggs (beaten)
2 packets of yeast
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
¼ to 1/3 cup brandy liqueur
1 teaspoon of salt
6-8+ cups King Arthur flour (this won’t be exact, you’ll need to add flour until it doesn’t stick to your hand)
Melt the stick of butter over low heat. Add the milk, mix and simmer. Set aside and chill. In a separate bowl, empty the yeast packets, add ¼ cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Stir gently until foam appears. Add the milk and butter mixture and the vanilla and brandy to the yeast.
Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining sugar, salt and beaten eggs. Slowly add the flour to the mixture, cup by cup, stirring with a wooden spoon until about four cups have been added. Then knead with your hands for a good five minutes, adding additional cups of flour. You will add until the dough does not stick to your fingers. Grease or butter another large bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Find a warm, dark place to get up for at least three hours.
After three hours, pack and knead again, cut in half (reserve a small amount to form a cross on top if desired) and put equally separated balls of dough in oiled or buttered Pyrex glass (I prefer round) or bread pans. Leave to rise for another hour.
Brush them with butter before they cook.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Test with a cake tester that the center is not sticky.