It is not surprising as people come together for the holidays that more and more gingerbread houses are being made – whether it be built with families or alone, shared over the internet – or simply made to be looked at, and then eaten! Gingerbread houses have been made for hundreds of years and have become a rather strong part of the culture around the winter holidays.
These houses all require just a few simple ingredients… Gingerbread, frosting, and varying candy decorations– and that’s it! They can be of any size, of any shape, of any decoration – it is purely designed for people of all ages (and all skill levels) to enjoy.
Though the art of gingerbread houses originated only a few hundred years ago, gingerbread itself has existed for an extremely long time. To start the progress of ‘inventing’ gingerbread was the ancient Chinese, who were the first to cultivate the ever-important ginger root. It was used as a medicine then; but it spread from China to the European countries.
From there, it was used to make gingerbread. The first dated form of gingerbread was 2400 BC, in Greece, and this idea later spread to Asian and European countries. Europe, however, had taken their love of the gingerbread creations a bit further than most of the others. They made their gingerbread into hard cookies, and shaped them into people, animals, flowers, and a whole ton more! It was also here that decorating the gingerbread cookies with gold leaf and varying other decorations to make it fit for royalty.
Gingerbread houses themselves didn’t start until the 16th Century, where Germans decided to place together the hard cookies into the shapes of houses. The popularity of such a thing only grew in the 1800’s, when the Brothers Grimm wrote Hansel and Gretel, a story of two children who stumble across a life-size house of the delicious gingerbread, decorated with larger-than-life candy pieces and mountains upon mountains of frosting.
And now, in the current time, gingerbread house making has only expanded from there. Families from everywhere come together to make creations such as these, whether they are big or small, or whether they are made from a kit, or entirely homemade, these gingerbread houses have become a staple part of the winter holidays.
Avery, Tori. “The History of Gingerbread.” The History Kitchen. PBS, 20 Dec 2013.
McCandless, Margie. “Gingerbread Houses – A Delicious History.” Lozier Library Blog, Bellevue University Blog Network, 14 Dec 2016, Bellevue, Nebraska.
Author: Stephany S