The bread wrapper declared that the item was “Sweet Beet Bread”. The variety was one of about a dozen loaves of frozen bread which also included “Spinach and Kale Bread”. They were displayed in a roll-away freezer that the supermarket uses for discontinued items. I love bargains, so I look through the little freezer when it is parked on the general sales floor.
The spinach and kale variety looked unappetizingly green, so I opted for a red beet loaf. Because the loaves had been marked down to $2, I wasn’t risking much. Besides, if I didn’t like it, it could be fed to the squirrels–they eat nearly anything.
After the grocery shopping trip was finished and the foods were stored away, I prepared a simple toasted sharp cheddar cheese sandwich. The beet bread did indeed have a subtle beet flavor that enhanced the melted cheese of the snack. The flavor is pleasant but not something I want frequently. At least it is a somewhat healthy food.
During the next grocery shopping trip, I noticed that there were still a few loaves of the vegetable bread remaining in the portable freezer. So, on a whim, I selected a package of the spinach and kale bread. After arriving back home, I did the toasted cheese taste test with the green bread. The verdict? I give the spinach and kale sandwich a score of meh. It’s not terrible and it’s not delicious. I’ll keep it in the freezer compartment as “emergency bread”.
I mention the peculiar breads because today is Lammas or Loaf Mass Day. It’s one of those pagan holidays that was reframed and codified by the Roman Catholic Church but is no longer listed on the General Roman Calendar. Lammas is still observed by some paganists in its original sense as the first wheat harvest celebration of each year.
The pagans and the Church called the holiday Lammas or Loaf Mass Day because the grain of the first harvest was ground into flour and baked into loaves. Many of the first loaves were broken apart and scattered into the wheat fields as an offering in honor of the bounty of the Gods/God. The offering is thought of as a blessing to help ensure that subsequent harvests will be bountiful.
“Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.” 19th century philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev
I don’t celebrate Loaf Mass Day, per se, but I do think it worthy of note. Personally, I like to express my gratitude for the simple necessities of life such as bread. Bread is a product of grains, a gift of agriculture and the Earth. I think of all that goes into the process of creating bread. Farmers plant the seeds, nurture the growing plants, and harvest the grains. The millers grind and process the grain into flour. Bakers bake the flour into loaves, slice it, and package it for shipment to grocery stores. The bread that I bring home is the result of this complex, interconnected chain of events.
During some of the cooler days of autumn and winter, I enjoy baking bread in my own kitchen. It truly is a hands-on experience. I never tire of the aroma of fresh baked bread. It’s flavor is unbeatable. To bake my own bread is a satisfying experience.
Today I will celebrate Lammas by enjoying whole multi-grain bread I bought yesterday at the supermarket deli.
Have a meaningful Lammas.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders something from writer and activist James Baldwin. “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them poisoned.”