Bread loaves created in the form of a circle or doughnut may be found all over Sicily. The name, “cuddura” bread (also called cuddureddi), comes from the ancient Greek word kollura (or kuddura), which means crown. The loaves are shaped as such so that shepherds and those working in the grain fields and vineyards could carry them comfortably on a stick while they moved throughout their day, but not only… During Easter, it is typical to prepare it with an egg baked into it. At Christmas, it’s made with dried fig paste.
Such loaves are also associated with many festivals celebrating saints in Sicily, yet its shape and symbolism date back to pre-Christian times when it was baked for rituals celebrating the abundance of cereals and therefore, bread. It was created to recognize the gifts of the mother goddess Demeter (Greek) (or Ceres (Roman)), the goddess of the grain, harvest, and female fertility. Today, the circular shape represents the Madonna, in addition to abundance.
You’ll see cuddura loaves pervading feasts for San Giuseppe (for example, in Salemi, where I photographed this loaf), Il Santissimo Crocifisso in Calatafimi, and for Gli Archi di Pasqua currently happening in San Biagio Platani.