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In Bergen, Norway, they make an entire city of gingerbread houses

Gingerbread House Day on December 12th recognizes a family tradition for many around the country.

  • A favorite food of an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, brought gingerbread to Europe around 992 AD and taught French Christians to bake it.
  • Since gingerbread was often used in religious ceremonies, monks baked and molded it into images of saints. Gingerbread figurines date back to the 15th century and baking human-shaped biscuits was practiced in the 16th century.
  • We can thank the Brothers Grimm for a gingerbread house, though. Through their tale of Hansel and Gretel, as they introduce an evil witch who lives in a house made of gingerbread.
  • It didn’t take long for the German gingerbread guilds to pick up the idea. Soon, they put gingerbread houses to more festive use making snowy cottages made from the spicy-sweet treat.
  • It is believed gingerbread was first baked in Europe at the end of the 11th century when returning crusaders brought back the custom of spicy bread from the Middle East.
  • Ginger was not only tasty; it had properties that helped preserve the bread.
  • It is said that Queen Elizabeth I came up with the concept of the gingerbread man after wanting to present them to visiting officials as gifts.
  • In Bergen, Norway, they make an entire city of gingerbread houses annually.
  • The word “gingerbread’ derives from the Old French word “gingebras”, meaning “preserved ginger”.
  • Shakespeare appreciated the value of gingerbread, with a quote from his play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, saying: “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy gingerbread.”   
  • Gingerbread was the ultimate (edible) token of luck and love. Before a tournament, ladies would gift their favorite knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck.
  • Folk medicine practitioners would create gingerbread men for young women to help them capture the man of their dreams. If she could get him to eat it, then it was believed he would fall madly in love with her.
  • For those wanting to cut the middlemen out altogether, ladies could eat a gingerbread husband themselves to help them snag the real thing.
  • According to Swedish tradition, you place the gingerbread in your palm, make a wish and then break the gingerbread with your other hand. If it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true.
  • Nuremburg, Germany has the title, “Gingerbread Capital of the World”.


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