Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Gingerbread House

Ah, gingerbread houses. Where would they be without Hanzel and Gretel?

Gingerbread was brought to Europe about 1000 years ago and was baked for religious ceremonies. Since Germany was the centre of the spice trade, ginger was in abundance. Due to this abundance the bakers were very creative baking gingerbread using molds of animals, fish, and bible scenes wieghing over 100 pounds.

Although no one knows when the first gingerbread house was made, odds are Nuremberg and it's Christmas Markets dating back to 1614 were probably where it was sold to the general public. In fact there was a Guild of master bakers called the Lebkuchlers that had exclusive rights to baking gingerbread in that city.

It probably wasn't until the brothers Grimm brought the tale of Hanzel and Gretel to the general populace of Europe and North America in the 1800's that the houses really caught on (went viral so to speak).

Now you can get completely insane creations

Our family cheated a bit with our gingerbread houses. My dad actually made ours out of cardboard. Decorated it with all the goodies... Marshmallows, gumdrops, icing etc... And then applied a very liberal layer of a shellac or something like that. At the end of the Christmas season we'd pack it away and pull it out the next year. I think one house lasted us on average 5 years or so, looked pretty good and it was as solid as a rock. Even the marshmallows.

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