Gingerbread House Ideas…
A gingerbread house or cookies are wonderful treats for the holidays! Read up on the history of these delicious cookies and try some of the fun ideas for making decorations, cookies, and houses.
Kids of all ages will have a great time putting these fun ideas into action for Christmas. It’s also a fun way to spend a cold winter day! Whip up a mug or two of homemade hot cocoa and let’s get started!
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The History Behind the Cookie
Ginger was originally cultivated in China and used as natural medicine. Along with other spices, fruits, and goods, ginger made it’s way to the Mediterranean along the Silk Road.
Crusaders returning from the Middle East brought back exotic ingredients that were coveted by Europeans. Ginger was likely one of these introductions, although the precise history is unknown.
Medieval Europeans used ginger for medicinal purposes, flavoring preserved meats and making sweet treats. Gingerbread was a hard cookie featured at fairs, tournaments, and jousts.
Ladies often gave a piece of a hard ginger cookie to knights for good luck and superstition had it that if they ate a cookie ‘husband’ they were more likely to find a suitor!
Over the years these decorated cookies became more elaborate, with icing and gold leaf added to the most decadent creations. Images such as leaves, hearts, and armor were favorite themes.
Gingerbread houses originated in Germany, possibly after the Brothers Grimm story about Hansel and Gretel. It is unclear which came first, the story or the house!
Several recipes were brought to the New World by colonists. They enjoyed the hard cookies and spiced cakes that sometimes contained dried fruits and nuts.
This favorite treat for the winter holidays had three different recipes printed in ‘American Cookery’ by Amelia Simmons.
Now that you’ve brushed up on your history, delve into some fun and interesting facts about this delicious tradition.
- The World’s Largest Gingerbread House, a monstrosity built in 2013 by the Traditions Club in Bryan, Texas, measured 60′ long, 42′ wide, and 20′ tall at the highest point. It took 1,800 pounds of butter, 7,200 eggs, 3,000 pounds of sugar, and 7,200 pounds of flour to create this behemoth.
- Nuremberg, Germany is the “Gingerbread Capital of the World.”
- Ginger helps calm nausea
- Swedish tradition has it that breaking a gingerbread cookie can bring good luck. Put the cookie in one hand, break it with the other hand. If it breaks in 3 pieces, you will have good luck!
- Pets that sneak some of this delicious cookie shouldn’t have any serious side effects. They would have to eat a large amount for the nutmeg (which can cause toxicity issues) to affect them. However, they may get an upset tummy, so put it where they can’t reach.
- Lebkuchen cookies decorated with ‘love letters’, such as “Ich Liebe Dich’ (I love you) are popular at Christmas (Weihnachten) and Oktoberfest in Germany.
- Early American political candidates gave out these tasty cookies to sway votes in their favor.
- Most gingerbread houses are edible, but some are constructed with glue or other inedible materials. Create one yourself to be sure it’s edible. Eat within a day or two so it doesn’t get hard and stale!
Fun Activities for Kids!
- Make a graham cracker house
- Create an ornament
- Make a gingerbread house
- Create mini houses
- Read the story of Hansel and Gretel or watch this video
- Print free coloring pages
- Visit a holiday display near you
- Make cookies and decorate them
- Read the story of the Gingerbread Man or watch this video
- Bake a cake
- Make a cookie tree
- Bake and decorate Lebkuchen cookies
Make a Gingerbread House for Christmas!
Try making your own cookie confections for the holidays this year! If you would like to make a house but aren’t sure about trying one from scratch, check out a kit.
These delicious cookie houses are a favored decoration for the Christmas holiday and they’re tasty too…what’s not to love about that?!
Have you ever made one from scratch? Leave a comment!