“Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
December 13th means that Christmas is creeping closer and closer, and it’s getting to be time to prepare for this holiday associated with so many traditions. One of those traditions is the baking of gingerbread. What child hasn’t dreamed of baking, building and decorating an entire gingerbread house, that could then be inhabited by a colorful little gingerbread family? Gingerbread Decorating Day is here to help all kids, from ages 1 to 92, get as much fun out of the season as possible!
The History of Gingerbread Decorating Day
Gingerbread is though to have been brought to Europe by an Armenian monk named Gregory of Nicopolis in the 10th century who had brought the necessary spices back from the Middle East, and then taught the art of gingerbread making, what with the spices and the molasses, to French Christians until his death. Gingerbread then made its way around Europe–in the 13th century, it made its way to Sweden, where it was baked by nuns to help soothe indigestion. There, it slowly became popular to paint the cookies and use them as window decorations as well. The 13th century also saw gingerbread make its debut in the city of Toruń in Poland, where the honey supplied by the local villages made the cookies especially delicious. To this day Pierniki Toruńskie, as they are known in Poland, are an icon of Poland’s national cuisine. From the 17th century onwards, gingerbread was sold in monasteries and pharmacies in England, where it was thought to have medicinal properties, and gingerbread became the symbol of the town of Market Drayton, which was particularly known for it. In the play, “Love’s Labour’s Lost”, Shakepeare himself wrote, “And I had but one penny in the world, thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.” In 1875, the gingerbread man was first introduced to holiday traditions through a fairytale published in St. Nicholas magazine, where he was depicted as a holiday treat that was eventually eaten by a hungry fox.
How to Celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day
Needless to say, the best way to celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day is to make your very own gingerbread cookies and then proceed to decorate them. This allows lots of room for creativity, and can be fun for the whole family! It can be most fun when each member of the family makes, bakes and decorates his or her own gingerbread man. Gingerbread can be decorated with many different things, from a simple icing made from just water and icing sugar, to more creative icings, like lemon or butter cream icing. Gingerbread men can also be made into cookie sandwiches, with delectable fillings made with vanilla or lemon cream, orange butter cream, or even ice cream! If you’re feeling particularly ambitious and confident, you could decide to make a gingerbread house. Gingerbread houses really allow for a lot of creativity, as they can be decorated with virtually anything that strikes your fancy, like gumdrops, candy canes, or peppermints, to name but a few.
After you’ve made and decorated your gingerbread, members of the family can exchange cookies, and the cookies can then be eaten or hung up on the Christmas tree as decorations. Gingerbread tends to keep for long periods of time, so there is no need to worry that the cookies will start to rot or crumble.