Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Christianity and sweets present us with a paradox. Jesus’s Last Supper with his disciples centered on bread and wine, and throughout Christian churches the Eucharist commemorating his life, death, and resurrection is identified with these staples of a frugal meal. The commonest alternatives then and now are bread (leavened or not) and unfermented grape juice, or water, or bread alone. Yet Christians have created and adopted an ever-expanding array of sweet treats—from fig cakes and St. Lucia’s Eyes to Trappistine creamy caramels—as ways of celebrating their spirituality in everyday life. See spirituality. These treats also draw their vitality from biblical scriptures, perhaps above all from the paradox that sweetness in Christianity is inseparable from bitterness.