Bread traditions from around the world

Bread is one of the most popular products in Ireland, that's why it's one of the 800 products you won't pay more for at Tesco. Not surprisingly it has some rich traditions around the world that we thought you would find interesting.

As we celebrated the launch of the 800 and the most popular bread items in the range, we began to think about just how central bread is to so many cultures. Here’s six wonderful bread traditions from around the world. 

bread basket

Jewish housewarming

From sweet to savoury, bread plays an integral role in many aspects of the Jewish culture and it’s often used to symbolise various emotions and is served at all family events or ceremonies.

One Jewish tradition involves giving the gift of bread, salt and sugar. Often given as a housewarming present, the tradition is used to wish good fortune and luck to the new home-owners. The saying goes:

“Bread, so that you shall never know hunger”
“Salt, so your life shall always have flavour”
“And sugar, so your life shall always have sweetness”.  

Russian wedding

In Russia, bread still plays a central role in wedding traditions. A ‘korovai’ is traditionally baked in the home of the bride and receives blessings before it is baked in the oven. Following the ceremony, the bread is shared by the wedding guests and is considered the culmination of the wedding.  In times of hardship, the blessing and sharing of bread alone, was often considered adequate to constitute a marriage between two people in the eyes of the community.

Halloween fortune telling  

You’re likely familiar with the traditional Irish Barmbrack (bairín breac). Baked during Halloween, the sweet loaf is enjoyed both for its delicious flavour and its fortune telling properties. Traditionally baked with a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a coin and a ring, each object carries a different meaning.

A pea meant you wouldn’t marry within the year, a stick meant an unhappy marriage, while cloth brought bad luck. Naturally a coin meant good fortune and a ring meant that a wedding was on the cards.

Pan de muertos

In Mexico, a special bread is baked every November to honour and remember loved ones who’ve passed on. Pan de Muertos (translated in English as ‘bread of the dead’) is baked on the 1st and 2nd of November and is flavoured with anise or orange flower water to create a sweet aroma and taste.

Often covered in sugar and decorated with dough-shaped skull and crossbones, the bread is either left as an offering at the graves of loved ones or shared amongst family, friends and colleagues.


Vánočka is sold all year round but is typically eaten at Christmas time. Steeped in culture and tradition, the braided brioche has its very own set of rituals, which must be followed to ensure a good bake.

Firstly, the baker mustn’t speak during the dough’s preparation. Secondly, a white apron must be worn at all times and finally, the baker must jump up and down while the dough is proving. An awful lot of work for a brioche, but this Czech bread is extremely popular. It must be worth all the exertion!

Rosca de reyes  

Each year, 12 days after Christmas, families in Mexico gather to celebrate Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day. To celebrate this Christian feast, a Rosca de Reyes, a sweet bread shaped like a wreath, is baked with a surprise addition – a small plastic figurine of a baby.

Used to represent the infant Jesus, the figurine plays an important role in the tradition and whoever gets the slice containing it must host a family party, with tamales (a traditional Mexican, dough dish) and host of Mexican treats, on the 2nd of February. 

Find your favourite breads in the 800

We love to taste breads from all over the world, but the simple, fresh sliced white pan will always be dear to our hearts, that's why its part of the 800 products you won't pay more for at Tesco.