I move fast to flip a loaf of bread left upside-down on a table. It’s a superstition I inherited from my mother who grew up in a family of Italian immigrants. Neither she nor I ever suffered serious privation or hunger in our lives, but her parents did. Their parents did too, and all the way on down the line.
The superstition is a memory — clung to and passed on — of times when a loaf of bread made the difference between life and death. If it fell off the table, then what? Similar superstitions developed throughout Europe and came across the Atlantic to America with its worried immigrants. You must be cautious with bread, treat it with reverence.
Every Sunday, in the Rite of the Eucharist, Catholic priests transform – literally (not symbolically) according to Church dogma - small, hardened wafers of bread into the body of Jesus Christ. The process is called transubstantiation. All of the devotees rise and line up to eat the bread, turned flesh of their savior.