Christmas Gingerbread Discover the Christmas custom, story, myth and legend associated with the Christmas Gingerbread. This festive tradition and Christmas custom, with its familiar symbol and meaning, has evolved over time. But what is the history, meaning and origin of the Christmas Gingerbread? This article provides facts and information about the history of the Christmas Gingerbread as a familiar symbol, tradition and Christmas custom.
The Christmas Custom, Origin and History of the Christmas Gingerbread The Christmas custom of eating gingerbread dates back to England in the Medieval times. Originally, the term gingerbread referred to preserved ginger from the French word 'gingerbras'. Gingerbread is a term to describe ginger flavored cakes, biscuits or cookies and bears no resemblance to dough that bread is made from. The French word 'gingerbras' (where the 's' is silent) sounded similar to the word gingerbread when spoken inEnglish and this is how the word was derived. The ginger spice was introduced to Medieval Europe by the crusaders. Recipes for Gingerbread changed over time. The potent ground spices used in Medieval cooking recipes were called 'Good Powders'. Pungent spices such ground ginger or a blend of cinnamon and mace, cubeb, pepper or clove was called 'Strong Powder' (Pouder Fort).
The History of Christmas Gingerbread Every old town or country fair in England had a different food associated with it. This was often a type of gingerbread - a favorite flavor deriving from the Medieval love of spices. A 'fairing’ was a present given at or brought from a fair which was often a form of gingerbread.
Cookies or Cakes? Gingerbread and various recipes were brought to America by the European immigrants. Early American cookies were referred to as "cakes" and gingerbread was later described as a form of cookie. Honey-based gingerbread cookies were popular with the German immigrants and were called Lebkuchen.
Christmas Gingerbread Men The practice of moulding Gingerbread into different shapes was fashionable in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. A gingerbread man was created for important guests of the Queen in an actual likeness of the guest. Later, wooden moulds were used to in the shape of a stylized human with stubby arms and legs. Gingerbread men are traditionally decorated with icing eyes, mouth and buttons down the body section.
Christmas Gingerbread House The Gingerbread House was believed to have been made following the popularity of a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. The fairy tale was Hansel and Gretel. The story follows Hansel and Gretel, a young brother and sister, who discover a house of candy and cake in the forest which is owned by a wicked witch who eats children. The house is described as follows:
"...it was built of bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows were of clear sugar. "We will set to work on that," said Hansel, "and have a good meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and you Gretel, can eat some of the window, it will taste sweet."
The idea of a gingerbread house was then turned into reality. After the fairy tale was published in the 1800's, German bakers began baking houses of lebkuchen and even employed artists and craftsmen to decorate them!
The Christmas Custom - Old Gingerbread The following Old recipe is taken from the book by Hannah Woolley (1622-1675) printed at the White Lion in Duck-Lane, near West-Smithfield, London in 1672 and entitled:
The Queen-like Closet OR RICH CABINET Scored with all manner of RARE RECEIPTS FOR Preserving, Candying and Cookery
To make Almond Ginger-Bread Take a little Gum-Dragon (*A congealing agent) and lay it in steep in Rosewater all night, then take half a Pound of Almonds blanched and beaten with some of that Rosewater, then take half a pound of fine Sugar beaten and searced, of Ginger and Cinamon finely searced, so much as by your taste you may judge to be fit; beat all these together into a Paste, and dry it in a warm Oven or Stove
Christmas Gingerbread Christmas is celebrated worldwide, throughout the Christian population of approximately 2275 million people, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. A Christmas custom or tradition is symbolized by a familiar symbol or icon, such as the Christmas Gingerbread, have come to represent the spirit and meaning of this special time of the year.
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"Merry Christmas, have a happy and prosperous New Year!"