40 Ideas for 40 Days—Lenten Activities: What’s with the Pretzels?


During these 40 days of Lent, I am offering 40 ideas (activities) to help catechists engage young people around the themes and images of this sacred season. Here is your next Lenten activity.

What’s with the Pretzels?

  • Ask the children to show a common posture for praying (kneeling or standing with hands folded).
  • Explain that, in the early Church, Christians often prayed with their arms folded across their chests, each hand on the opposite shoulder. (Demonstrate for them.)
  • Invite the children to stand and to fold their arms in the manner described. Together, pray the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Next, show the children a twisted pretzel.
  • Show how the pretzel “imitates” the prayer posture that they just demonstrated.
  • Explain that, because we are called to pray and fast during Lent, the pretzel has come to be seen as a Lenten food, because it reminds us of the prayer posture of early Christians and it is a simple food that we can eat in place of a meal.
  • Tell the children that, according to tradition, an Italian monk in the early 600s invented the pretzel as a reminder to his brother monks to pray during the season of Lent. He named his creation “little arms,” which in Latin is bracellae. From this word came the German word bretzel (eventually pretzel).
  • As an option, distribute modeling clay to the children and have them roll the clay into a “rope” about 10 inches long and then twist it into the pretzel shape.
  • For a simple pretzel recipe that you can provide to the children, visit http://daniellebean.com/recipes/breads-and-rolls/lenten-pretzels/.
  • Encourage the children to include pretzels as part of their Lenten diet, especially as a replacement for meals they may be fasting from.
  • Include pretzels as a Lenten treat in your classroom. (Pay attention to any food allergies.)
  • Use this as an opportunity to talk about prayer postures in our personal prayer as well as at Mass (standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing, genuflecting, and so on).

40 Ideas for 40 Days
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40 Ideas for 40 Days
Check out all of the activities for Lent.
About Joe Paprocki 2748 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

1 Comment on 40 Ideas for 40 Days—Lenten Activities: What’s with the Pretzels?

  1. We just talked about pretzels & Lent yesterday in our CCE class! The kids were so surprised and excited to learn the origin of the shape of pretzels. I’ll confess I didn’t know about Lent & pretzels myself until a couple years ago.

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