Gingerbread is a type of baked good, typically made of ginger root, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and molasses. It can be shaped into houses and can even be used to create tasty little men.
The first recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. The recipe quickly spread across Europe. The idea of decorating gingerbread cookies came when Queen Elizabeth I had ordered some gingerbread cookies be made to look like some High-Rank Officers she had visiting her court.
Decorating cookies to look like people was one thing, but to build a house out of cookies and candy? This idea can be attributed to none other than Hansel and Gretel. Published in Germany in 1812, “Hansel and Gretel” is a fairytale about two siblings who get abandoned in the woods and stumble upon a witch who lives in a house made of gingerbread. Nuremberg, Germany loved the story and loved the witch’s house even more, so much so that they began to recreate the houses themselves.
The city of Nuremberg began to associate the Gingerbread Houses with Christmas time, as the prices of the ginger root would go down during the season. European immigrants brought a whole new way of life to the New World. They also brought the Christmas tradition of making Gingerbread Houses to America with them. The rest is history.
This Holiday season, as you enjoy anything gingerbread, remember to thank the witch that wanted to eat Hansel and Gretel.