Intricately decorated houses covered in colors and candy line the windows of bakeries and shops at this time of the year. For thousands of years people have been making gingerbread houses, but not all of us know where this tradition even began. The Germans are to thank for this widely accepted holiday dessert.

Beginning many years ago, these cute little houses have been popular throughout the ages. With the help from a couple of master bakers, this well-known decorative dessert has become an embedded tradition during the holiday season. 

cookie, candy, chocolate, sweet, gingerbread, cake
Kaitlin Wheeler

The Beginning

To begin the story, we need to go back in time to the era of the Greeks and the Egyptians. Gingerbread was used as large, firm blocks for their religious ceremonies, but years later it was discovered by the Chinese to grow as a crop. This marked the beginning of using ginger. 

The ginger root became more popular later in the 14th century when the Chinese were trading it along the Silk Road for medicinal purposes. Once the Europeans got a hold of this unique spice, they started to put it in their bread, preserving it for their long travels to and from home. The ginger root became an important item for trading, but this was not its only use. 

cake, beer
Kaitlin Wheeler

The Church Takes on Gingerbread Making

Supposedly, Gregory Makar was one of the first monks who incorporated the tradition of gingerbread making into Christianity while living in France. Here he taught priests and Christians to bake gingerbread where many would use it as a homeopathic medicine for indigestion and colds. Not until the 16th century was the gingerbread recipe first used to create a house.

Nuremberg, Germany led the first gingerbread art making festivals during Christmastime, where highly talented bakers and workers were paid to make gingerbread into artistic representations of homes. As other European countries began to hear about this new tradition, Queen Elizabeth I decided to create gingerbread men that represented important guests at one of her feasts. With these new additions, decorating gingerbread was becoming just as popular as baking it. 

gingerbread, cookie, cake, sweet
Kaitlin Wheeler

Through the creative minds of many, the gingerbread house was born and still lives on today. With a little artistic touch and spread of the ginger root throughout world, the holiday season happily accepts the gingerbread house as a well-known popular dessert . 

Thanks to the collaboration of a variety of different countries and cultures, the gingerbread house was created. With the shared talents of many, now we have the freedom to walk into a store and simply pick up a pre-made house. So get out there and start decorating.