Bread— The baking of special breads and CAKES is one of the oldest Halloween traditions, and may date back to the CELTS, who sometimes chose victims for sacrifices by marking one piece of bread or cake in charcoal. Special cakes and breads are involved in many different customs surrounding ALL SAINTS’ DAY, ALL SOULS’ DAY, and DAYS OF THE DEAD; however, in some areas of Europe it is supposedly bad luck to bake bread on Halloween, and will endanger all who eat it.
One of the earliest mentions of Halloween includes a reference to bread, as this line found in the Festyvall from 1511 indicates: “We rede in olde tyme good people wolde on All halowen daye bake brade and dele it for all crysten soules.”
Bread (as compared to cake) figures in at least one FORTUNE-TELLING custom: Someone desiring to engage in WISHING would have a family member bring him a piece of dry bread at bedtime on Halloween. The bread was eaten slowly (and silently) while the person thought of a wish; if the dreams that night were pleasant, the wish would soon come true.
Bread also had some protective powers: A safeguard for travelers on Halloween was to carry a piece of bread crossed with SALT in a pocket.
The Halloween Encyclopedia Second Edition written by Lisa Morton © 2011 Lisa Morton. All rights reserved