Gingerbread Decorating Day is celebrated by children and adults alike on December 12 every year. The day sets the mood for the upcoming holiday season. Baking of gingerbread is one of the oldest holiday traditions and Gingerbread Decorating Day unleashes the hidden artist in us! Gingerbread is a broad range of baked goods flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It is sweetened with sugar, honey, or molasses. Gingerbread ranges from a soft, moist loaf cake to a crisp or dense ginger biscuit, depending on your favorite. If you are a novice baker or simply too busy, you don’t actually have to bake gingerbread cookies or a gingerbread house. Pick up your favorite gingerbread items from the baker, make some quick icing, and get started on a gingerbread decoration project with all the candies you can lay your hands on. Gingerbread can be decorated with many things. You can use chocolate chips or creative icings like lemon or buttercream icing to decorate your gingerbread, and the only limit is your imagination. Gingerbread decorating is best done in groups, as fun shared is fun doubled. Many childhood memories are centered around gingerbread flavors and colors as families make this a holiday tradition.
History of Gingerbread Decorating Day
The origins of Gingerbread Decorating Day are unknown. Thankfully the history of gingerbread is well-documented. Gingerbread was brought to Europe by the Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, in the 10th century. He brought the necessary spices from the Middle East and then demonstrated gingerbread making, using spices and molasses, to French Christians. By the 13th century, gingerbread had become popular and nuns in Sweden would bake it as an antidote to indigestion.
It was in Sweden that painting and decorating gingerbread became popular. These decorated gingerbreads were in fact used as window decorations! The 13th century also saw gingerbread make its way to the city of Toruń in Poland, where the honey made in the nearby villages made the cookies especially delicious. To this day ‘Pierniki Toruńskie’, as they are known in Poland, is iconic in Poland’s national cuisine. From the 17th century onwards, gingerbread was sold in monasteries and pharmacies in England, where it was popularly believed to have medicinal properties. It was also in this century that you could only make gingerbread if you were a professional gingerbread baker — unless it was Easter or Christmas when everyone was allowed to make gingerbread at home.
In the play, “Love’s Labor’s Lost”, Shakespeare wrote, “And I had but one penny in the world, thou should’ st have it to buy gingerbread” — such was its popularity! In 1875, the gingerbread man was introduced to holiday traditions through a fairy tale published in St. Nicholas Magazine, where he was depicted as a holiday treat that was eaten by a hungry fox.
Gingerbread Decorating Day timeline
An early form of gingerbread can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who used it for ceremonial purposes.
Gregory of Nicopolis makes the first gingerbread in its modern method and style.
A guild in Germany begins to control gingerbread production, limiting the baking to artisans.
Gingerbread mass-produced as the steam-powered scroll saw and lathe are widely available in the middle 1800s.
Gingerbread Decorating Day FAQs
How long do gingerbread decorations last?
You can keep a gingerbread house for years with proper storage. Our houses will stay fresh to eat for up to 12 months depending on how they are displayed and/or stored. Keep in mind that if you are displaying your decorated house, it will gather dust and other air particles.
Why is it called gingerbread?
Originally, the term gingerbread referred to preserved ginger. It then referred to a confection made with honey and spices. Gingerbread is often used to translate the French term pain d’épices (literally “spice bread”).
Where did the making of gingerbread houses start?
Food historians claim that the tradition of making gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. The first gingerbread houses were the result of the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel.”
What are some benefits of eating ginger?
Ginger has a host of health benefits: it can help with indigestion or nausea, is anti-inflammatory, could even lower cholesterol levels and heart disease risk factors, and has some cancer-fighting properties.
How To Celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day
Decorate gingerbread cookies
Needless to say, the best way to celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day is to make your very own gingerbread cookies and decorate them. This can be a fun thing to do with the family.
Bake a gingerbread house
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could bake or buy a gingerbread house on Gingerbread Decorating Day. Gingerbread is assembled and can be decorated with gumdrops, candy canes, and peppermints.
Host a gingerbread house competition
Set up a station with gingerbread house pieces, colorful candy, frosting, and much more. Bring people together and get them to participate in a friendly gingerbread house decorating competition. This could even be done at a group home or senior center, to get members of the community in on the action.
5 Facts About Gingerbread That Will Blow Your Mind
Queen Elizabeth I was enamored with gingerbread.
England’s Queen Elizabeth I invented gingerbread men to represent her suitors and gave their likenesses to them to eat.
Record-breaking gingerbread house
The largest gingerbread house was assembled in December 2013 and was 60 feet long, 42 feet wide, and over 10 feet tall.
December numbers boom
Almost 450 million gingerbread cookies are made annually during the holiday season.
Gingerbread made some happy matches
It was believed that eating gingerbread men would ensure that young women would find husbands.
Gingerbread can make your wishes come true
According to the Swedish tradition, you can put gingerbread in your palm, break it, and if there are three pieces, your wish will come true.
Why We Love Gingerbread Decorating Day
It brings people together
Gingerbread Decorating Day is a great way to bring the family, friends, and community groups together to do something that everyone will enjoy.
It gets creative — and competitive — juices flowing
This is the perfect day to get creative. Gingerbread Decorating Day lets you unveil the baker and painter in you! If you and groups decorate together, the ideas and laughter flow, and you could show the rest how to really decorate!
Ginger is healthy
Besides being completely yummy, gingerbread spices in combination actually have health benefits. That makes it good for you while you are eating it.
Gingerbread Decorating Day dates