Why we decorate Gingerbread Cookies and Houses for the Holidays. Where did Gingerbread start?

The Story of the Gingerbread House

Decorated Gingerbread House

Nothing better to get you in the holiday spirit than making a Christmas gingerbread house. It's a tradition in many families - and perhaps yours too - to decorate gingerbread houses during the holidays. But what is the gingerbread house story? Why do we decorate gingerbread houses? When did it become synonymous with the holiday season?

Well, let's go back in time and explore the origins of gingerbread, through the eyes of food historian Tori Avey.

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Where did Gingerbread Start?

Iced Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread has been around for centuries. Ginger root was commonly used in China, and throughout history, has been used for its medicinal properties. It actually helps an upset stomach and can boost your immune system! After the Silk Road, the use of ginger spread throughout Europe, but it wasn't until the 15th century in England that gingerbread became a dessert. Prior to that, the term gingerbread was given to preserved ginger and wasn't related to desserts made out of ginger. The oldest gingerbread recipe dates back to Greece in 2400 BC, but it was during Queen Elizabeth I's reign that we get the traditional gingerbread cookies.

When did we start decorating cookies?

In England, gingerbread cookies were a sign of nobility and royalty, or special occasions such as fairs. In fact, decorated gingerbread cookies are attributed to Queen Elizabeth the I. She had her bakers create gingerbread confections that looked like her honorable guests. During this time, the cookies were decorated with foil and gold leaf. However, during this time, the cookies weren't just meant for Christmas time. The gingerbread creations would change shape according to the season. They would also hold festivals known as the Gingerbread Fair, where people would find different gingerbread cookies, in various shapes.

The history of Gingerbread Houses:

Gingerbread houses, on the other hand, started in Germany. German bakers started making these houses to decorate around the holidays. This is where the holiday tradition was born.

Gingerbread House Fairy Tale

During the 16th century, the popularity of the Grimm Brothers' Hansel and Gretel (which isn't a story very full of holiday cheer in our opinion), made these decorated houses extremely popular. Much like the philosophical question of what came first: the chicken or the egg? Historians aren't sure if the story was based on the creations of German bakers, or if the bakers started making and decorating these houses as a result of the story. But it was this that began the tradition of cheery decorations on gingerbread structures.

Why we started making kits:

The reason we started making gingerbread house kits is simple: We wanted to bring a family tradition to your family. Whether you're a pastry chef or a beginner baker, we want to make your gingerbread baking easy, so you can let your creativity flow. Our recipe has been perfected after many years of looking for the right gingerbread recipe, and the best royal icing recipe. The great part about our kits is that they make two large houses, and they include everything you need to make an amazing gingerbread house, and start - or continue - this wonderful holiday season tradition.

We hope that you enjoyed reading about the history of gingerbread as much as you enjoy making your next gingerbread house! Don’t forget to tag Ginger's Breadboys in your next gingerbread creation.

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