Portugal’s football team arrived in Russia on June 9 for the World Cup and received a strange welcome: Gifts of bread and salt. Cristiano Ronaldo found the whole thing pretty amusing as girls in national outfits offered a huge loaf and salt to the players and coaches - which they duly tasted. As odd as it may seem, the gesture is actually an ancient Russian tradition for greeting important guests. Let’s look at what’s behind this ritual
In Russia, guests almost always receive a warm welcome. People in the country go out of their way to make sure visitors have everything, nothing is spared - it’s in their blood. In ancient Russia, bread and salt symbolized prosperity and health, so hosts would put on their best clothes, lay a feast on the table, and offer a loaf or two together with the condiment to their guests.
Germany's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel and Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov during a welcome ceremony after a press conference following Russian-German talks.Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
Bread in Slavic culture is considered a sacred thing: No bread at home means there’s nothing to eat - no meal doesn’t include bread. "Bread is the staff of life" is probably the most famous Russian proverb.
Today, there is no shortage of salt in the world. But in ancient and Medieval Rus, it was rather expensive and not everyone could afford it. During the mid-17th
Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker at the presentation of his book Rock Your Life.Anton Belitskiy/Sputnik
According to the tradition, guests are greeted by ladies in national costumes with a large round loaf on a towel with a salt shaker on top. The guest should carefully break off a piece of the bread, dip it in the salt, and eat - this signals that a friendship has been forged between the two parties. An old belief is that if the worst of enemies share bread and salt, they will reconcile
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (left) visiting the Rostvertol helicopter plant, 2007.Sergey Venyavsky/Sputnik
But if the guest did not accept this gift, then he was not allowed into the house to avoid the evil eye and his bad thoughts. Since ancient times, hospitable hosts in Russia are called
In today’s Russia, this tradition is still popular: It can be witnessed during official receptions, as well as in restaurants geared up for foreign tourists
The Russian wedding.Legion Media
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