Ever wonder why we make houses out of cookies during the holidays? Or what gingerbread has to do with Christmas? Or who first thought to make cookies with ginger, a spicy-tasting root?
Well, we have some answers! Read on to learn a bit about this fun holiday tradition... and for a free Womple-inspired gingerbread house coloring page and printable to celebrate the holidays!
These days we use ginger in everything from noodles to cakes. It's especially popular during the holidays! But, way back in the day, ginger wasn't as common. While the Chinese were eating ginger as early as 400 AD (and probably a lot earlier), ginger wasn't introduced to Europeans until later.
Once they'd tasted ginger, Europeans couldn't get enough! Not only was the spice tasty, but ginger was thought to help preserve foods from going bad.
The first gingerbreads, as we know them, were baked around a thousand years ago. At the time, gingerbreads were mostly hard biscuits - similar to the crispy cookies you can still get today. But, it wasn't until hundreds of years later that master bakers started to make elaborate art out of gingerbread. First, it was only basic shapes. Then, simple outlines of figures and animals. Eventually, master bakers were creating whole scenes and events and adorning them with gold leaf!
Gingerbread houses, the three dimensional cookie-creations that we build today, were first created in Germany in the early 1800s. While historians still debate which came first, the fairytale or the gingerbread house, most agree that the famous Brothers Grimm's story of Hansel and Gretel can be credited with making gingerbread houses popular with children everywhere.
The tradition of having gingerbread at Christmas time has developed over the years. The earliest gingerbread bakers prohibited anyone else from baking gingerbread, but they granted special permission to everyone during the holidays. Eventually, those strict rules disappeared, but the association of gingerbread with the holidays remains.
Hungry yet? Click below to download this free gingerbread house printable and get coloring!