Bread and salt is a welcome greeting ceremony in Slavic and other
European cultures and in Middle Eastern cultures. The tradition, known
by local Slavic names: Belarusian: Хлеб і соль; Bulgarian:
Хляб и сол; Macedonian: Леб и сол; Croatian: Kruh i
sol; Serbian: Хлеб и со; Polish: Chleb i sól; Slovak: Chlieb a
soľ; Czech: Chléb a sůl; Slovene: Kruh in sol; Russian:
Хлеб-соль, Ukrainian: Хліб і сіль was also adopted by
three non-Slavic nations — Lithuanians,
Latvians (both Baltic) and
Romanians (Latin) — all three of which are culturally and
historically close to their Slavic neighbours (Lithuanian: Duona ir
druska. Latvian: Sālsmaize and Romanian: Pâine și sare). It is also
common in Albania (Albanian: bukë, kripë e zemër), Armenia
(Armenian: աղ ու հաց, agh u hats), the Jewish diaspora, and the
Middle East. This tradition has also been observed in
1 Cultural associations
1.2 Belarus, Russia and Ukraine
1.4 Czech Republic and Slovakia
1.6 Republic of Macedonia
1.9 Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
1.11 Arab culture
1.12 Jewish culture
1.13 Iranian culture
1.14 United Kingdom
1.15 In Space
2 In fiction
Bread, salt and heart (Albanian: bukë, kripë e zemër) is a
traditional Albanian way of honoring guests, it dates back from the
Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini Chapter 18 - para.608: "The Guest shall be
welcomed with Bread, salt and heart". Heart in the context is related
with hospitality, the concept is based on giving the most expensive
thing of that time which was salt to the awaited guest. Nowadays it is
not commonly practiced during daily life.
Belarus, Russia and Ukraine
US Naval officer takes part in a bread and salt ceremony after
arriving in Vladivostok, Russia, July 3, 2006.
When important, respected, or admired guests arrive, they are
presented with a loaf of bread (usually a korovai) placed on a rushnyk
(embroidered towel). A salt holder or a salt cellar is placed on top
of the bread loaf or secured in a hole on the top of the loaf. On
official occasions, the "bread and salt" is usually presented by young
women dressed in national costumes (e.g., sarafan and kokoshnik).
The tradition gave rise to the Russian word that expresses a person's
hospitality: "khlebosolny" (literally: bready-salty"). In general, the
word "bread" is associated in
Russian culture with hospitality, bread
being the most respected food, whereas salt is associated with long
friendship, as expressed in a Russian saying "to eat a pood of salt
(together with someone)". Also historically the
Russian Empire had a
high salt tax that made salt a very expensive and prized commodity
(see also the Moscow uprising of 1648).
American Vice President
Joe Biden dips a piece of bread in salt as
part of a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in Kiev, Ukraine, July
There also is a traditional Russian greeting "Khleb da sol!" (Хлеб
да соль! "
Bread and salt!"). The phrase is to be uttered by an
arriving guest as an expression of good wish towards the host's
household. It was often used by beggars as an implicit hint to be fed,
therefore a mocking rhymed response is known: "Khleb da sol!" — "Yem
da svoy!" (Хлеб да соль — ем да свой! "
salt!" — "I am eating and it is my own!").
In the Russian Orthodox Church, it is customary to greet the bishop at
the steps of the church when he arrives for a pastoral visit to a
church or monastery with bread and salt.
Bread and salt (Bulgarian: хляб и сол, transliterated hlyab i
sol) is a traditional Bulgarian custom expressing hospitality, showing
that the guest is welcomed. The bread and salt is commonly presented
to guests by a woman. Bulgarians usually make a certain type of bread
for this occasion called pogacha, which is flat, fancy, and decorated.
Regular bread is not usually used, although it may have been
historically, but pogacha is much more common in this custom.
Usually, guests are presented with the pogacha, and the guest is
supposed to take a small piece, dip into the salt and eat it. This
custom is common for official visits regardless of whether the guest
is foreign or Bulgarian. One notable example of this custom is when
the Russians came to liberate Bulgaria from the Ottomans at the end of
the 19th century. A common scene from that period was of a Bulgarian
village woman welcoming Russian soldiers with bread and salt as a sign
Czech Republic and Slovakia
This tradition is still practiced in the Czech Republic (chléb a
sůl) and Slovakia (chlieb a soľ) for special occasions, for example,
when presidents from other countries are visiting. It is not commonly
practiced during daily life.
In Poland, welcoming with bread and salt ("chlebem i solą") is often
associated with the traditional hospitality ("staropolska
gościnność") of the Polish nobility (szlachta), who prided
themselves on their hospitality. A 17th-century Polish poet, Wespazjan
Kochowski, wrote in 1674: "O good bread, when it is given to guests
with salt and good will!" Another poet who mentioned the custom was
Wacław Potocki. The custom was, however, not limited to the
nobility, as Polish people of all classes observed this tradition,
reflected in old Polish proverbs. Nowadays, the tradition is mainly
observed on wedding days, when newlyweds are greeted with bread and
salt by their parents on returning from the church wedding.
Republic of Macedonia
In the Republic of Macedonia, this tradition still is practiced
occasionally as a custom expressing hospitality. A certain type of
bread, similar to that in Bulgaria and also by the same name —
Latin panis focacius) is prepared.
The famous Macedonian and ex-Yugoslav ethno-jazz-rock group of even
more famous world music guitarist, Vlatko Stefanovski, had the name
"Leb i Sol", which means "bread and salt" and speaks itself about this
term of hospitality as something basic and traditional.
As in Slavic countries, bread and salt is a traditional Romanian
custom expressing hospitality, showing that the guest is welcomed.
Bread and salt (hleb i so) is a traditional welcoming of guests,
being customary to offer it before anything else, with bread having
an important place in Serbian tradition, used in rituals. The
traditional bread, pogača, is a symbol of family unity and goodness,
and salt prosperity and security for the guest. It is part of the
state protocol, in use since the Principality of Serbia, often used
when welcoming foreign representatives.
Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
In Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, bread and salt were
traditionally given as a symbol of blessing for a new home. Instead of
white bread, dark fiber-rich rye bread was used.
Bread and salt are given away for different reasons:
to the wedding for a lasting alliance between spouses
to move into a house to wish sedentary, prosperity and fertility.
In northern Germany and Bohemia (Czech Republic) bread and salt are
traditionally put into the diaper of a newborn. In Transylvania bread
and salt are served to protect against weather demons.
Arab culture also have a concept of "bread and salt" (خبز وملح
or عيش وملح) but not in the context of welcoming, but as an
expression of alliance by eating together, symbolizing the
rapprochement between two persons. Eating bread and salt with a friend
is considered to create a moral obligation which requires gratitude.
This attitude is also expressed by Arab phrases such as "there are
bread and salt between us" (بيننا خبز وملح or بيننا
عيش وملح), and "salt between them" (بينهما ملح) which
are terms of alliance.
The practice exists also among Jews in the Diaspora and in Israel. The
Kiddush includes dipping a piece of
Challah in salt. Bread
and salt are also used in welcoming ceremonies and given to the
welcomed persons. It is common in Israel for a landlord or real estate
agent to leave bread and salt in the home to welcome new tenants, as
these should be the first things brought into a new home.
It is an important part of the culture. It is given on all good
occasions: during weddings, house warming parties, and childbirth.
Iranian culture when a guest is welcomed into the home, it's
said that they have eaten
Bread and salt, and this leads to loyalty of
In Northern England and Scotland the tradition is observed on New
Year's Day, where the first individual to enter a house may be
required by tradition to bring bread, salt and coal.
With the advent of the Soviet space program, this tradition has spread
into space, where appropriately small packages of bread and salt are
used nowadays. It was observed at the Apollo–Soyuz Test
Project and the Salyut programme, when crackers and salt tablets were
used in the spaceship.
Bread chunks and salt were a welcome at the Mir
space station, a tradition that was extended on the
International Space Station.
Bread and salt are also a welcome
for cosmonauts returning to Earth.
The custom of serving bread and salt to guests is a recurring
reference in George R. R. Martin's
A Song of Ice and Fire
A Song of Ice and Fire novels,
where the welcome ritual serves as not only as a Westerosi tradition
of hospitality but also a formal assurance of "guest right", a sacred
bond of trust and honor guaranteeing that nobody in attendance, hosts
and guests alike, shall be harmed. Violating the guest right is widely
considered among the highest moral crimes, an affront worthy of the
worst damnation, rivaled only by kinslaying. While this is not as
present on the HBO show
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones based on the book series, it
is prominently featured during an event called the "Red Wedding",
which involves a violation of this sacred guest right. An occurrence
of this hospitality ritual is in season three, episode 9 "The Rains of
Castermare." Where Lord Walder Frey's serverant is passing around a
bowl of bread, and a bowl of salt of which Robb Stark, Lady Stark,
Catlyin Stark, and even Walder Frey take a small piece of bread, dip
it into the bowl of salt, then eat it.
In Season 2, Episode 4 of Peaky Blinders, Alfie Solomons offers
Charles Sabini bread and salt as Sabini offers a white flag of truce.
Rudyard Kipling referenced bread and salt in a number of works. In The
Ballad of East and West, leavened bread and salt is mentioned as
binding an oath of blood brothership. At the beginning of Puck of
Pook's Hill Puck establishes his credentials with the child
protagonists by asking them to sprinkle plenty of salt on their shared
meal. ""That'll show you the sort of person I am."
In Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novel Outcast, bread and salt is
referred to as a sign of belonging to a tribe: "You are my people, my
own people, by hearth fire and bread and salt".
In the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Chapter 72 is titled
Bread and Salt." The character Mercedes attempts to coax the main
character into eating fruit, as part of an Arabian custom to ensure
that those who have shared food and drink together under one roof
would be eternal friends.
In D.R. Merrill's 2014 science fiction novel Lamikorda the Alplai
greet the leaders of the Terran colony vessel with a ritual meal of
foods representing their major cultures, including bread from the
Saakh; one of the Terrans then presents a small container of sea salt,
which is graciously accepted and added as a symbol of their
Bread and salt are given as a housewarming gift in one scene in the
1946 film "It's A Wonderful Life"
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Bread and salt.
^ a b c Dunn, Marcia (March 17, 1995). "The Daily Courier (Yavapai,
^ a b c d McHale, Suzy. "Ceremonies RuSpace". suzymchale.com.
Wacław Potocki - 'Chlebem, czapką, solą'" (in Polish).
republika.pl. Archived from the original on March 4, 2008. Retrieved
^ "'Chlebem i solą. Dawne uczty polskie' - Wydarzenie" (in Polish).
culture.pl. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17. Retrieved
^ Ken Albala (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia.
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^ Dragoljub Zamurović; Ilja Slani; Madge Phillips-Tomašević (2002).
Serbia: life and customs. ULUPUDS. p. 30.
^ Timothy L. Gall; Jeneen Hobby (2009). Worldmark Encyclopedia of
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^ "Hleb u narodnoj magiji Balkanskih Slovena". Rastko.
Pogača i so kroz vekove čuvaju goste".
^ "نان و نمک". Dehkhoda Dictionary. Retrieved 26 August
^ "Feast of bread and salt awaits space station crew - World".
Smh.com.au. 2003-02-01. Retrieved 2015-07-22.
^ [dead link]
R. E. F. Smith, David Christian,
Bread and Salt: A Social and Economic
History of Food and Drink in Russia (1984) ISBN 0-521-25812-X
Symbols of Ukraine
Coat of arms
Glory to Ukraine
Bread and salt
Cossack with musket
Shche ne vmerla Ukraina
Prayer for Ukraine
Oi u luzi chervona kalyna
Zrodylys my velykoyi hodyny
Volodymyr the Great
Yaroslav the Wise
Kiev Pechersk Lavra
Saint Sophia Cathedral
Seven Wonders of Ukraine