When Salty Bread Leads To An Engagement, and Other Strange Love Rituals

Love is strange, as the song goes. So, so strange.

How strange? There was a time in 19th-century Austria when an unmarried woman would tuck an apple slice under her arm during social events and, at the end of the evening, gift the squashed fruit to the man she admired most. The kicker? If he returned her affections, he’d eat the apple. 

Makes swiping right sound pretty civilized all of a sudden. 

But not all food-related love rituals are so sweaty. Below are three customs that marry courtship with comestibles to deliciously unique effect:

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Photo: Stocksy/ Levi Tijerina

During the Feast of St. Sarkis in Armenia, celebrated between January 11 and February 15, unmarried women are encouraged to eat a salty piece of bread as part of a long-held love ritual. 

“So, St. Sarkis is the Armenian equivalent to St. Valentine,” said Mario Arakelian, the general manager of Armenian restaurant Almayass in New York City. “He is the protector of love and, yes, unmarried women will go to church in the evening of this holiday and get salty bread from a priest. It has to be blessed and eaten before they go to bed. They will not drink anything with it, no water, no nothing.” 

Tradition dictates that after doing so, the single ladies will have a prophetic dream of their future husband. 

“This is a longstanding custom,” he said. “Grandmothers and granddaughters have all done it. Of course, I can’t say if it actually works.”

Choosing auspicious dates for important life events is an age-old practice in East Asia. For the Daur people of China, a minority descended from the Khitan nomads, one such alleged custom includes an unusual food-related love ritual: Recently engaged couples must dissect a chicken and inspect its liver to determine when they should wed. 

But while this practice has been written about on multiple sites, Yahoo Food was unable to confirm its validity. 

“The Daur is a very small ethnic group in China, if I am not mistaking it with another group, whose culture and customs are little known and surely understudied because of the aforementioned reason,” said Yunxiang Yan,
Professor of Anthropology & Director at UCLA Center for Chinese Studies.

For those who don’t find celery very romantic, think again.

In Amish communities, one tipoff that a love match is in the works can be found in a family’s garden: If an abundance of celery has been planted, an upcoming wedding is likely the reason. According to Amish News, creamed celery is one of the main dishes served at Amish weddings, along with a casserole featuring celery, and vases displaying celery stalks decoratively on tables.

“All this extra celery being grown will probably be your first clue that an Amish wedding is on its way,” writes Amish Family Values.

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