History of Christmas: Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Houses
Gingerbread Men and Houses
Picture a house decorated for Christmas. Do you picture the Gingerbread House in it or Gingerbread men? These two favorites have become a tradition at Christmas time. The yummy pastry makes a great decoration and many people use elaborate designs for their gingerbread houses. But when did this start? Who started it?
The first gingerbread man's credit goes to the Queen of England, Elizabeth I in fact. When she had important visitors she would have gingerbread men made in the likeness of them. Imagine their surprise to see a man made out of gingerbread that looked just like them!
After the story of Hansel and Gretel, told by the Brothers Grimm, the idea of the gingerbread house sprung up. In the story, the witch who intended on eating the children lived in a house made of "bread" with candy all over it to attract children. This tradition actually began in Germany as have many Christmas traditions. Germans brought the tradition overseas to the Americas.
Gingerbread actually was brought to Europe during the Crusades. It is thought that the spicy bread containing ginger originated in the Mideast. Women in England would make the bread to welcome back the men who had been gone fighting on their return home. What a treat after going off to war.
Today, the elaborate houses are made with gingerbread and decorated with everything from icing to candy.