Gingerbread House Day is observed annually on December 12.
A favorite food of an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, brought gingerbread to Europe around 992 AD and taught French Christians to bake it. Gingerbread was often used in religious ceremonies and was baked to be sturdy as it was often molded into images of saints.
We can thank the Brothers’ Grimm for the idea of a gingerbread house through their tale of Hansel and Gretel. It didn’t take long for the German gingerbread guilds to pick up the idea and put it to a more festive use making snowy cottages made from the spicy-sweet treat.
- At first, European gingerbreads where only made by Catholic monks, who usually created them in the form of angels and saints.
- According to the Swedish tradition, you can make a wish, using gingerbread. First, put the gingerbread in your palm and then make a wish. You then have to break the gingerbread with your other hand. If the gingerbread brakes in to three, the wish will come true.
- A doctor once wrote a prescription for gingerbreads for the Swedish King Hans, to cure his depression.
- Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with the first gingerbread men.
- Unmarried women in England have been known to eat gingerbread “husbands” for luck in meeting the real thing.
- Nuremburg, Germany has the title, “Gingerbread Capital of the World”.
- In the city of Bergen in Norway, they make an entire city of gingerbread houses annually.
- The word “gingerbread’ derives from the Old French word “gingebras”, meaning “preserved ginger”.
- The largest gingerbread house in the world is 60 feet by 42 feet and is has 35,823,400 calories.
- 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 ginger-bread.”
- Gingerbread was the ultimate (edible) token of luck and love. Before a tournament, ladies would gift their favourite knights a piece of gingerbread for good luck.