The practice of sharing bread is as old as bread itself. Before Jesus Christ broke bread with his followers and said "Take this, all of you, and eat from it..." there was the Jewish practice of the HaMotzi, the blessing over the bread. To sanctify the Sabbath, the holidays and any celebration bread was blessed with the words "Blessed are you, Lord our G_d, who brings forth bread from the Earth."
And well before either of those were laws of Hospitality, sealed with wine and bread. And the celebrations of the harvest.
In the Celtic places of the world the celebration of the first harvest, the harvest of grain, was called Lughnasadh. Pronounced Loon'-sod, it is celebrated on or around August 1st - in between the Summer Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. My family and I will celebrate it next Sunday.
We'll get together with friends and have a bbq with shish kabobs and a barley and corn dish that sets a proper Celtic/medieval mood but the ritual part comes as we sit down to eat, before we dig in. We celebrate the grain harvest with a crusty, fresh-baked loaf of bread. We pass it around the table and each person present speaks aloud a wish they have for the coming weeks. It's usually something they want to bring into their lives - a quality or an emotional state like joy or mindfullness or even prosperity. They speak their desire over the bread and pass it, uneaten to the next person.
When everyone has spoken, the bread is infused with all the goodness everyone could wish for. Then and only then do we rip off a chunk and eat from it, taking into ourselves not only our wishes but the hopes and wishes of everyone around the table. We infuse our bodies - through this blessed bread - and become living place holders for all the others, reminders for each other of where we want our focus to be in the upcoming weeks, until we meet again to celebrate the second harvest - the fruit of the vine!
Until then...Merry meet, merry part, until merry meet again!