Bread, that this house may never know hunger. Salt, that life may always have flavor. And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

I’m not sure how the tradition of bringing bread, salt, and wine as a housewarming gift got started among my highly transient cohort (I guess, like most people, we heard it one too many times during the annual Christmas screening of It’s a Wonderful Life). Regardless, two sets of wonderful Baltimore friends made moves at the end of April, so I cracked open Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice yesterday and got to work on a couple of challah loaves to celebrate these new homes.

Like all traditions, variations pop up. I just came across a version that substitutes a new broom for the wine, “to sweep your troubles or sorrows away,” which sounds both poetic and practical. Honestly, with friend’s like mine, I’d always thought we had added the wine part on ourselves (along with a nice cheese and a container of olives, of course).