I was at the bakery yesterday picking up a delicious loaf of country style bread with sesame to munch on with my lunch (those crusts are to DIE for!!!) when I noticed that on the shelf above the loaves were some rather pretty looking round loaves stamped with a nifty little design.
"What's that?" I asked the lady in the shop. "It's jksdyfdifypsomo" she replied. Some sort of bread is what I gathered, the actual name of which went right over my head. Anyway, it looked nice so I thought I'd have me one of those too and I bought a loaf. It smelt so nice and it was lovely and spongey feeling too. This was good bread, I thought, congratulating myself on my sure-to-be-delicious discovery.
When Mr Zeus came home I told him I'd found something really cool at the bakery today, some really snazzy looking bread which I'd never seen before and whipped the loaf out of its paper bag.
He looked at me and burst out laughing. "Do you realise what you've bought? That's prosphoro, they use it for holy communion in the Greek Orthodox church."
*Slaps forehead* damnation! It turns out this pretty bread is actually a quite holy offering to the Greek church. Those who bake it are meant to keep a candle lit nearby and say the Lord's prayer which they press the design-making stamp onto the loaf. The loaves are baked one on top of the other to represent Christ's human and divine nature. Sometimes holy water is used in the preparation.
During the divine liturgy, a square is cut from the bread to represent the Eucharist and the rest is cut into smaller pieces for holy communion. That pretty design I so admired in the bakery actually says IC XC NIKA - Jesus Christ conquers. And with that went my lunch plans.
Should I have suspected since the bakery was next door to a church and soon the Greek Orthodox calendar will start gearing up for Easter? Should the lady in the bakery have let me take the bread knowing full well I am a foreigner? Maybe she thought "Ahh bless her, she must have converted to Orthodoxy and is totally taking her new found religion seriously. Bless you!"
What am I supposed to do with the loaf now? I can't very well make toast out of it! How could I have not known about the holy bread!