Saying Grace:  Prayer before a meal
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This article honors the holiday calendar which is packed full of food observances and holidays that's known for delicious food. Enjoy reading as we give you a varieties of featured recipes, articles and tips just for celebrating the holidays. Just like this article about grace.
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Grace is a name for any of a number of short prayers said or an unvoiced intention held prior to or after eating, thanking God and/or the entities that have given of themselves to furnish nutrients to those partaking in the meal. Some traditions hold that grace and thanksgiving imparts a blessing which sanctifies the meal. In the English language tradition, reciting a prayer prior to eating is traditionally referred to as "saying grace".

A prayer of Grace
A prayer of Grace is said to be an act of offering thanks to God for granting humans dominion over the earth, and the right and ability to sacrifice the lives of divine creations for sustenance; this thanks is the "saying of Grace" prior to and/or after eating of any meal.

However, in many indigenous cultures around the world, including North America, the saying of grace does not signify human dominion, but rather recognition of a plant or animal's giving their life and that some day the prayer giver, like every sentient being, will return to earth to give sustenance and life to others.

If one is not religious and the rest of the table is saying grace, it is considered polite and culturally appropriate to observe silently, or to bow one's head. It is often considered impolite or incorrect to start eating before grace has been said and completed.

The saying of grace entered into English language Judeo-Christian cultures with the Jewish mealtime prayer Birkat Hamazon, though any number of cultures may have informed the practice, or it may have arisen spontaneously by individuals and then perpetuated by family traditions and social institutions.
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The American tradition of Thanksgiving

In some American Christian families, either the head of the household or an honored guest often recites or improvises a special grace on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, while the others observe a moment of silence. In some households it is customary for all at the table to hold hands during the grace.

Typical Christian grace prayers

  • Ecumenical. God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our 
          food. Amen.
  • Catholic. (before eating) Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, 
          which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, 
          our Lord. Amen. (Preceded and followed by the Sign of the Cross.)
  • Catholic. (after eating) We give Thee/You thanks, Almighty God, for 
          all Thy benefits, and for the poor souls of the faithful departed, 
          through the mercy of God, may they rest in peace. Amen. 
          (Preceded and followed by the Sign of the Cross.)
          Eastern Orthodox. (before eating) O Christ God, bless the food and 
          drink of Thy servants, for holy art Thou, always, now and ever, and 
          unto the ages of ages. Amen. (The one saying the prayer may make 
          the Sign of the Cross over the food with his right hand).
  • Eastern Orthodox. (after eating) After the meal, all stand and sing: We thank Thee, O Christ our God, that Thou hast satisfied us with Thine earthly gifts; deprive us not of Thy Heavenly Kingdom, but as Thou camest among Thy disciples, O Saviour, and gavest them peace, come unto us and save us. There are also seasonal hymns which are sung during the various Great Feasts. At Easter, it is customary to sing the Paschal troparion.
  • Anglican. Bless, O Father, Thy gifts to our use and us to Thy service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.
  • Lutheran. (before eating) Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest, and let Thy/these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.
  • Lutheran. (after eating) O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth/endures forever. Amen.
  • Wesleyan. Be present at our table Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. These mercies bless and grant that we, may feast in fellowship with Thee. Amen
  • Scots (The Selkirk Grace). Some hae meat and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it; But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit.
  • Australian (any denomination). Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest, let this food of ours be blessed. Amen.
  • Common in British and Australian religious schools. For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
  • Used at some YMCA summer camps. Our Father, for this day, for our friends, for this food, we thank Thee. Amen.

Note: Many Christian households or institutions (e.g. schools) ad lib grace at every meal, and it is not uncommon for events from the day to be mentioned in the prayer.
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Jewish grace
research: Birkat Hamazon

With the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the offering of the prescribed sacrifices ceased in Judaism. Thereafter, the Rabbis prescribed the substitution of other ritual actions to fill this void in Jewish obedience to the Torah. The ritual washing of hands and eating of salted bread is considered to be a substitute for the sacrificial offerings of the kohanim (Jewish priests).

Though there are separate blessings for fruit, vegetables, non-bread grain products, and meat, fish, and dairy products, a meal is not considered to be a meal in the formal sense unless bread is eaten. The duty of saying grace after the meal is derived from Deuteronomy 8:10: "And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and shalt bless the Lord thy God for the goodly land which he has given thee." Verse 8 of the same chapter says: "The land of wheat and barley, of the vine, the fig and the pomegranate, the land of the oil olive and of [date] syrup." Hence only bread made of wheat (which embraces spelt) or of barley (which for this purpose includes rye and oats) is deemed worthy of the blessing commanded in verse 10.

After the meal, a series of four (originally three) benedictions are said, or a single benediction if bread was not eaten
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► Saying Grace..... continued

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