The Religious Origins Behind the Distinctive Twisty Shape of Pretzels

A loopy episode of Geobeats explains the religious origins behind the very distinctive shape of pretzels, although the explanation usually given is not the whole story. Legend states that monks replicated the praying arms of children and were a reward for successfully completing lessons. From there the story continues about how the three holes symbolize the Holy Trinity as well as good luck, long life and prosperity. According to, the Catholic Church played a leading role in the early history of the pretzel.

In the seventh century, the church dictated stricter rules governing fasting and abstinence during Lent than it does today. Pretzels, made of a simple mixture of water, flour and salt, were an ideal food to consume during Lent, when all types of meat, dairy and eggs were prohibited. …the popularity of these twisty treats spread across Europe during the Middle Ages. Seen as a symbol of good luck, prosperity and spiritual fulfillment, pretzels were also commonly distributed to the poor, as a way of providing them with both spiritual and literal sustenance.

Frische Brezel

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.