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It is a simple staple of many people’s diets. Something sustaining and delicious, and maybe just a little bit comforting. Starting the day with buttered toast is an institution in many places throughout the world, but German Butterbrot Day has succeeded in turning it into a celebration!

For those who are a fan of buttered bread, this day is for them! It takes that simple morning treat and turns it into a tradition worthy of being followed. So get that favorite bread out and butter it up for German Butterbrot.

History of German Butterbrot Day

From the term literally meaning “buttered bread”, German Butterbrot hails back several centuries, to the 1300s when German people used to eat a slice of bread spread with butter for breakfast. It was originally a substitute for porridge and was often supplemented with another item on top.

Most people are familiar with the standard and basic bread and butter, but German Butterbot is so much more than that. Butterbrot isn’t just buttered bread on its own. It specifically refers to buttered bread that also bears a single additional topping to bring it all together.

What a person chooses to add to their butterbrot depends largely on the time of day that it is being eaten! Breakfast is time for a sugary burst of sweetness to get a person going. So butterbrot is often topped with marmalade, hazelnut spread, peanut butter, jam, or honey. Cream cheese is another favorite of butterbrot fans.

In the evening the ingredients on butterbrot tend to change to more hearty and savory mixes, occasionally even including an entire schnitzel (a breaded meat dish), minced meat or even smoked salmon and liverwurst. The range of delicious toppings one can put on butterbrot is only as limited as the palate and the imagination.

Even the bread choices for traditional butterbrot are beyond the pale. Given its birthplace in Europe, German Butterbrot Day is a celebration of the rich, full flavored and bodied breads that are favorites of Europeans. No simple white loaf here. Instead it is more likely to find a panorama of flavors with a hearty bread like rye, pumpernickel, and a special sort of heavy bread known as Volkombrot, which is a whole-grain bread made with a sourdough base.

Sometimes referred to as German Sandwich Day, this day was started in 1999 when the Central Marketing Agency of the German Agricultural Industry determined that its sandwich was losing its popularity. Having found that butterbrot was being overtaken by breakfast influences from other cultures, the agency worked hard to remind Germans of its popularity and bring it back.

Although the Central Marketing Agency of the German Agricultural Industry went defunct ten years later, the celebration of German Sandwiches has continued on.

With that in mind, German Butterbrot Day is a time to enjoy and appreciate all of the beauty and delight that comes through a simple slice of bread, a bit of butter and some other tasty toppings.

So get ready to celebrate German Butterbrot Day!

German Butterbrot Day Timeline

12th Century

Butterbrot gets its start 

Often eaten in lieu of porridge, butterbrot becomes popular as a simple breakfast food that can be used as a palette for many different flavors.[1]

17th Century

Russia adopts term “butterbrod” 

Probably during the time of Peter the Great, the Russian language is influenced by German culture and adopts the term.[2]

1970

Central Marketing Agency (CMA) is formed 

With the purpose of promoting the German Agricultural Industry, this organization is created.[3]

1999

First German Butterbrot Day 

Started by the Central Marketing Agency of the German Agricultural Industry (CMA), the first German Sandwich Day is celebrated.[4]

2009

CMA is disbanded 

The organization that established German Butterbrot Day is liquidated and disbanded, but the day continues to be celebrated around the world![5]

How to Celebrate German Butterbrot Day

Celebrating German Butterbrot Day is simple and delicious! Consider some of these simple and tasty ideas for celebrating this German Sandwich day:

Enjoy Butterbrot for Meals

Make your day a true reflection of German Butterbrot Day by making it a part of every meal. For breakfast, enjoy a richly buttered piece of rye bread topped with jam or marmalade.

Later, for lunch, pack a butterbrot sandwich that includes a cold meat or cheese combo to be eaten atop a flavorful pumpernickel for the noon meal. When evening rolls around, it’s time for a dinner of ciabatta rolls topped with caviar and ham (separately, of course). What other new butterbrot experience will you have for German Butterbrot Day?

Throw a German Butterbrot Party

Whether a person with German heritage or simply someone who loves to celebrate different international cultures, German Butterbrot Day is a great opportunity to gather friends and family members together for a party. Play German music, decorate with German flags, and for snacks serve German Butterbrot.

In fact, it would be fun to put out an entire array of different types of bread, butter and all sorts of toppings. Let guests build their own creations of butterbrot with savory or sweet options that fill up a buffet table.

Watch German Films

To make the most of the German culture that influences this day, grab some butterbrot and get ready to watch a few German films. Turn on those English subtitles and try some German films such as these:

  • A Coffee in Berlin (2012). As an aimless student who has dropped out of university roams the streets of the city of Berlin, he spends time trying to uncover and make sense of the meaning of life.
  • A Friend of Mine (2006). This comedy drama follows a young man who is serious about his life and is annoyed by his chattery coworker, but he eventually wins him over and they become friends.
  • Hut in the Woods (2011). As a young man, who is an escaped psychiatric patient, and a boy find each other, they build a cabin together and their journey of survival creates a strong bond that cannot be broken.
  • Lessons of a Dream (2011). When an English teacher in Germany introduces the game of soccer to his students, it is well received.

German Butterbrot Day FAQs

Is butterbrot good for you?

Butterbrot (bread and butter) can be part of a healthy diet, especially if it is made from whole grain bread. [1]

What is a German sandwich?

A German open faced sandwich is known as “butterbrot” which is an open faced slice of bread, spread thick with butter and given optional savory toppings. [2]

What is the butterbrot recipe?

Bread with butter is the basis for a wide range of German sandwich meals, with toppings that vary significantly from cheese and chives to cold cuts to marmalade. [3]

Where does sandwich get its name?

Though its name is likely after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in England in the 1760s, this certainly is not the first time this culinary creation is eaten. [4]

What are some German sandwiches?

In addition to butterbrot, other German sandwiches include Strammer Max (eggs with cured ham), Toast Hawaii (ham, pineapple and melted cheese), Mettbrötchen (pork mince with raw onions). [5]

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