Caraway Bread

Little wood men and wood women also used to dwell in the Schallholz woods, which lie about a quarter of an hour to the west of Merkendorf near Zeulenroda. They were happy to help the local people and be of service to them, especially when making hay. But they were also tricky, and it was common for them to take dumplings out of the pots and breads out of the oven without asking permission.

This was finally too much for the people of Merkendorf. They desired to get rid of those unloved guests, and used the usual methods for that purpose. The miller, whom they had helped faithfully and for whom they swept flour and the mill itself, left new clothes for them. This annoyed the little helpful creatures to the utmost. They moved away, and did not come back.

Other people baked caraway into the dough, or scattered it over the crust, as it is still custom today. Then the little wood women wailed under tears:

“Caraway bread

Makes us dead!”

Then, as they moved away with the intention of never returning, they said as they left:

“If you eat your caraway bread,

Then carry your own distress!

And from that time onwards, the neighbors in Merkendorf never again had it as good and prosperous as they had in earlier times.

Source: Bechstein, L. Thüringer Sagenbuch. Zweiter Band. 1858, p. 139f.

Notes and commentary: Baking with the Forest Women