While we tend to associate pretzels with Germany, they’re likely Italian in origin. And even though they’re a typical Oktoberfest food these days, they were once closely associated with Easter and, more specifically, Lent.
It appears the humble pretzel originated in Aosta, Italy in 610 AD with a young monk who decided to get creative with the unleavened bread he was preparing for Lent. He rolled and twisted the dough in the shape of arms crossed in prayer. (In those days, people prayed with their arms crossed over their chests and not with their hands in the prayer position we do today.)
Originally, the pretzels or “pretiola” were handed out to children to get them to say their prayers, and the word pretiola is Latin for “little reward.” Some historians also believe that the three holes in the pretzel are meant to represent the Holy Trinity.
It’s unclear how pretzels made their way out of the monastery to become a larger European tradition, but by 1440, pretzels became a popular Good Friday food in Germany, along with eggs, which were nestled in the pretzels’ holes. The evidence is scarce, but it has long been said that Germans used to hide pretzels along with eggs on Easter morning. – WTF fun facts