Why Do We Eat Gingerbread Cookies at Christmas?

December 13, 2017

Birthdays have cake, Halloween has candy and Christmas has cookies! Lots and lots of cookies! No delectable dessert is more associated with Christmas than cookies. (We said delectable, so fruitcake while associated with Christmas, is out!) It seems almost every family that celebrates Christmas has their own special Christmas cookies. From perfectly iced sugar cookies to Grandma’s old-fashioned thumb prints, cookies are a part of our Christmas traditions. Of all the Christmas cookies perhaps gingerbread is most closely associated with Christmas. But why?

We can thank ancient China for cultivating the ginger root which eventually ended up in Europe after having a little stopover in the Middle East. Crusaders brought ginger and an early form of gingerbread back to Europe with them. Another form of gingerbread cookie popped up in the Medieval Ages. Often, they were shaped like animals or important figures such as kings and queens. However, we can thank Queen Elizabeth I for the idea of decorating these tasty treats.

However, it was the Germans who are attributed with taking simple gingerbread and building houses. Some people believe the fairytale Hansel and Gretel was based on this tradition while other historians believe creating gingerbread houses was influenced by the story.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are credited with popularizing the Christmas Tree and incorporating gingerbread into Christmas. Prince Albert was German and brought the Christmas tree tradition to England when he married Queen Victoria. Common people needed something to decorate their trees with, and often used a variety of edibles including gingerbread. Everything Queen Victoria did was emulated, and her palace décor was no exception. Think of her as a pop culture icon of the late 1800s. Her influence coupled with German and English immigrants arrived in America, meant even more people were adding gingerbread and Christmas trees to their celebrations.

Throughout the years traditions evolved and we tend to eat or build with gingerbread instead of decorating the tree with it. But gingerbread is still a very large part of our Christmas season. If you are looking for a yummy tradition gourmet gingerbread without all the baking, we suggest stopping by Carolina Cookie this holiday season for the finest selection of gingerbread cookie gifts delivered right to your door.