Pretzels for Prayers

Pretzels for Prayers

A good German pastor a long time ago said to his good wife—or at least this is the legend—"My dear, this is the happy Christmas season, and I would like to give something to each child in my church."

"But we are very poor," said the good wife, "and what can we afford to give all these many children?—Hans and Hilder and Wilhelm, Fritz, Gretchen, Hansel, and Frieda—oh, there are a hundred of them!"

"I know," said the pastor, "but you know, my good Frau, how much and how dearly I love every boy and girl in my church." He spoke like a good, true pastor should.

"Well now," said his Frau, "I will give you some of the money I have been saving—it's only a mite, but it may help."

The pastor kissed his wife's hand, "Thank you, thank you," he said. "Your mite will help mightily."

"I think I will give them each a stick of candy shaped and colored like ribbons."

"For shame," said his Frau, "you know candy is not good for children, and besides, when they are too poor even to have all the bread they need, why give them candy?" You see it was a very poor village and many children did not always have enough to eat.

"Then I will go to the baker and give them bread," answered the pastor, "but it shall be pretty bread that shall make them happy."

With that he took his wife's mite and his own mite, and pulling his hat down till it rested on his ears—you see it was an old hat—he trudged out the door, down the steps, and off to the baker's shop.

"Mister Baker," said the minister, "can you take some dough and make something pretty, something delicious, something different for the children of my church for a present?"

"Ach," said the jolly baker, as he bumped his stomach against the bread board. "It is for the children of your church, vas est?"

"Ya, ya," said the pastor, smiling broadly.

With that the baker took some dough in his hands and began to roll it into long, slender pieces like thin ropes. Then he twisted it into shapes of circles, triangles, towers, and trees.

"Ach, nein, nein," said the baker, "not so good—not pretty."

Then the baker pulled hard on his right ear and scratched his shiny bald head. "Let me tink," he said. "Do your children pray in the church?" asked the baker.

"Well, now," said the pastor, "would I be a good pastor if I did not teach the children to pray?"

"Ach, ya, ya. I remember now," said the baker. "When they pray you teach them to fold their hands like this. My Fritz does." ( And here he crossed his right hand and his left hand on his arms.)

"Ya, ya," said the pastor, "I have taught them in my church to pray with their arms crossed like this."

A light gleamed in the baker's twinkly big eyes. He tossed a thin roll of dough in the air, caught it when it came down, and crossed the pieces of dough across a circle to imitate the arms of boys and girls in prayer.

"There," said the baker, "I will put a hundred of these in my oven and you may give them to remind your boys and girls always to say their prayers each night. I will make them a pretty, shiny brown. I will sprinkle them with a delicious salt, and they shall be crisp and chewy, and when the children eat them, they shall cry for more."

The pastor almost danced a jig he was so happy. "But what shall we call these?" he asked.

The baker grinned, "Why pretzels, of course—pretzels for prayers."

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