Customs – Grace


Before every meal eaten as a family, my informant and his family say a prayer to bless the food. The basic structure of the prayer goes as follows:

Dear God,

Thank you for this food,

We are about to receive,

In your name,


The informant and his family call this prayer grace. A different family member at random says grace. Everyone holds hands, bows their heads and closes their eyes. After the prayer each family member makes the sign of the cross. Whoever is saying grace can add additional parts to the prayer if he or she pleases. More prayer is added if one family member has a special day coming up, is going to face a challenge in the near future (like an exam or interview), also additional words are said if a visitor is present.

The informant and his family are Catholic but he does not consider himself devout. He says saying grace is a ritual done so frequently that it is routine rather than a spiritual practice. Even if it is not a deeply spiritual practice, the prayer does remind him of God and his faith. His family attends church on occasion and he sometimes prays alone but says grace is their most frequent and consistent Catholic practice.

Praying before meals is common among Christian people and it is called grace. Food is not supposed to be eaten until grace has been said. It serves as a way to symbolically make one’s nourishment clean and sacred before it enters the body. Saying grace is also a time to thank God for blessing them with food. Grace seems like a way to incorporate religion and faith