Give us this day our daily bread

Today is World Bread Day. While it coincides with the United Nations’ World Food Day, it’s a much more lighthearted celebration.  For the past seven years, 16 October has been the date that bloggers and other social medialites the world over have baked bread, and shared their experiences with their friends and followers.

A steaming, freshly baked bread must be one of the most basic culinary pleasures in life.  When you’ve been away from fresh food for a few days, there are few things better than a thick slice of bread, hot out of the oven, generously spread with melting butter.

Ahh, bread and olives. Add a glass of wine and life is good.
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In a way it is fitting that World Bread Day falls on the same day as World Food Day, given the role of bread as a basic source of nutrition the world over.  Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, with evidence of bread-making dating back some 30 000 years. Earliest breads seem to have been a form of flat-bread made from starch extract from the roots of plants, while ‘modern’ grain-based bread appeared around 10 000 BC.

Considering it’s prevalence, bread plays an understandably important role in culture and religion. In Christian religion, bread is a symbol for the the body of Christ, while Jewish religion uses different types of bread for specific religious ceremonies and events. Bread is often equated to our general daily necessities (‘Give us this day our daily bread’, ‘putting bread on the table’). Around the 1950’s, ‘bread’ started to be used as a slang euphemism for money – a figure of speech that is now common the world over. Aligned with this comes terms like ‘bread-winner’ as the main income-provider in the family.

Bread is such an amazingly versatile food – once baked, it can be eaten warm or cold, or toasted. Eat it with dipping liquids like gravy, olive oil or soup; spread it with sweet or savoury toppings; stack it as a sandwich with your favourite fillings including meats, cheeses and more – the options are limited by your  imagination only.

All this talk is making me peckish – I think I can do with a slice of toast with homemade marmelade!

Which leaves me with just one question: Whatever was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

Take time out to visit a lighthouse on Lighthouse Day

Today is Lighthouse Day, created to commemorate the day in 1789 when US Congress approved an Act for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers.

While this is a US commemoration, it’s surely reason enough to celebrate the important role fulfilled by lighthouses the world over, marking treacherous coastlines, hazardous shoals, reefs and safe entries to harbors.

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The Cape Reinga Lighthouse, situated in the Northland region of New Zealand, was built in 1941, replacing an older lighthouse dating back to 1879, that used to be situated on the nearby Motuopao Island. Initially a manned lighthouse, it was fully automated by 1987, and the lighthouse keeper staff were withdrawn. It has since been remotely monitored from Wellington.
An interesting feature of the section of ocean that this lighthouse watches over, is that it marks the point where the Tasman Sea from the west meets the Pacific Ocean coming from the east. From the lighthouse, the line where the mighty waters clash is clearly visible, making it quite a special place. According to Māori legend this is the meeting place of the male Te Moana-a-Rehua, ‘the sea of Rehua’ with the female Te Tai-o-Whitirea, ‘the sea of Whitirea’, and also the place where the spirits of the dead descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki.

Many lighthouses have fallen into disuse due to high maintenance costs and the emergence of new electronic navigation systems. The aim of Lighthouse Day is to focus attention on these imposing landmarks from our past, and to create awareness about local, national and international societies and organisations making an effort to preserve lighthouses for future generations.

Lighthouses traditionally symbolise safety, stability and truth, and as such their preservation holds symbolic importance for mankind. Go on, pay a visit to your nearest lighthouse and take time to appreciate its grandeur. And don’t forget to take some photos – lighthouses are famously photogenic entities!