Spanish Food Idioms – Nacer con un pan debajo del brazo


Hello world! I have decided to start back after so much time away with a Spanish food idiom that encapsulates the last few years of my life in which many big, good things have happened, making me feel truly lucky.

Click here for an introduction to the Spanish Food Idioms series.

Today’s expression: nacer con un pan debajo del brazo

I have often heard it said in Spain that “un bebé nace con un pan debajo del brazo” – “a baby is born with a loaf of bread under his arm.” In this day and age, the figurative bread in this expression represents the feelings of good fortune and happiness typically associated with the birth of a new child.

Yet the bread here also has financial connotations, as we can find in certain expressions in English. Another Spanish bread idiom, “Ganarse el pan,” “to earn one’s bread,” means to make a living, as a “breadwinner” does in the English-speaking world. Indeed, today’s idiom is thought to have originated in times when a new child  meant a new source of income or household labor in the family.

In context:

In case you hadn’t guessed yet, I have selected today’s expression because it has special meaning my personal life. Yes, the biggest, luckiest thing that has happened to me since I last wrote has been the birth of my son, Mateo. He was born on Halloween in 2013. Seeing and holding him for the first time, I more fully understood the meaning of the “pan debajo del brazo,” “the bread under the arm,” of a newborn baby.


IMG_2244This is one of the first pictures we took of Mateo in the hospital, over two years ago now!


Soon after Mateo was born, several friends said to me, often with a wink and a nudge, “A ver si viene con un pan debajo del brazo,” “Let’s see if he has come with bread under his arm.”

These friends were wishing our family well in all realms, yet I got the sense that they were especially wishing us financial luck. Perhaps this would be the year for us to win the Christmas lottery, for example, or, more realistically, for my husband to get a better contract.

For the past several years, you see, we had been living under a cloud of contract-to-contract uncertainty. But the year Mateo was born my husband got a prestigious five-year research position (in Spain, mind you, where good contracts are hard to come by these days). This is just one of the many ways in which we have been lucky since Mateo came into our lives.

Here is a quick list of some of the other happy changes in my life since I last wrote (these happenings will be fleshed out in greater depth in blog posts to come):

  • I got married (well, this happened before Mateo was born, yet it is of course connected with starting a family, so I consider it part of the bread under Mateo’s arm).
  • I got a Thermomix, the do-it-all kitchen machine (also before Mateo was born, as a wedding gift from friends who knew it would come in handy for preparing a future baby’s purées).
  • I got my Spanish drivers’ license after way too long with the road rules book on my shelves. The desire to take off and explore with Mateo was a key motivating factor. Look out roundabouts, here I come!

Un pan debajo del brazo indeed!

*Diccionario de dichos y frases hechas (2009) by Alberto Buitrago.


  1. Andrea Scudder Evans

    Dearest Ansley,

    Your blog is wonderful – what a fabulous re-start up!!

    Sloan called me last night when I had planned to respond to this, and then I fell asleep during the Republican debate.

    Lots of love and CONGRATULATIONS,


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