December 12th is Gingerbread House Day! Gingerbread House Day recognizes a family tradition for many around the country. What IS gingerbread? A favorite food of an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, brought the spicy-sweet treat to Europe around 992 AD and taught French Christians to bake it.
Gingerbread is made from ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, anise and is generally sweetened with molasses or honey. To be considered gingerbread, a recipe must feature ginger as a dominant flavor and use either honey or molasses to add sweetness. Since gingerbread was often used in religious ceremonies, monks baked to be sturdy to molded into images of saints.
Beyond that, we can thank the Brothers’ Grimm for a gingerbread house. Through their tale of “Hansel and Gretel,” 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 a more festive use making snowy cottages made from the spicy-sweet treat. Today, we can spend the day baking, cutting, and building to our heart’s delight