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Meyers Konversations-Lexikon from 1905 suspects the origin of pretzels in a ban of heathen baking traditions, such as in the form of a sun cross, at the Synod of Estinnes in the year 743. A 12th-century illustration in the Hortus deliciarum from the southwest German Alsace region (today France) may contain the earliest depiction of a pretzel.
Within the Christian Church, pretzels were regarded as having religious significance for both ingredients and shape.
In Bavaria, lye pretzels accompany a main dish, such as Weisswurst sausage.Often, they are sliced horizontally, buttered, and sold as Butterbrezel, or come with slices of cold meats or cheese.Sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, or caraway seeds, melted cheese, and bacon bits are other popular toppings.Sizes can range from 30 cm (1 ft) up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and they can weigh up to 2.5 kg (6 lbs).An old tradition on Palm Sunday dating back to 1533 is the outdoor pretzel market (Brezgenmarkt) in the Hungerbrunnen Valley near Heldenfingen.