Gingerbread Baking and Decorating Teacher Fun Facts/History!
Gingerbread dates back to Ancient Greece, dating to 2400BC.
Gingerbread was originally used for ceremonial purposes
Greek and Egyptian gingerbread was not as we know it today, it was not very sweet, made with honey instead of molasses and had a cakier texture. Molasses wasn’t used until European settlers brought it to North America.
Ginger root was used for medical treatments, and was originally cultivated in China, it was widely popular for its medicinal purposes.
Queen Elizabeth I is coined for the first gingerbread people. It is said she had her chefs create gingerbread people to resemble her guests at court and gave them as gifts. The cookies were fashioned to resemble the people they were given to.
Gingerbread cookies shaped like animals, flowers, kings and queens began popping up at medieval fairs and soon became a staple. Ladies would often give their favourite Knight a piece of gingerbread for good luck. Several cities in England and France held ‘Gingerbread fairs” It was something that was not just associated with the holidays! Gingerbread shapes would change according to the season!!
By 1598 gingerbread was popular it was mentioned in William Shakespeare’s play “Loves Labour Lost” the quote is ” If I had but one penny left in the world, I would use it to buy a gingerbread“
We started seeing gingerbread houses in the 1800’s
Gingerbread houses are credited as a German invention, but did not gain popularity until the Brothers Grimm published the story Hansel and Gretel (1812) The children get lost deep in the forest and stumble upon a house made of gingerbread, cakes and candy!
The tradition of building gingerbread houses became popular around the holidays, it was taken very seriously so much so that bakeries employed artists and craftsmen to help decorate them.