Why Do We Make Gingerbread Houses?

Once upon a time their were two young children by the name of Hansel & Gretel.  These children got lost within a forest  when they discover a cottage built of bread and cakes, with windowpanes of sugar. 


Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.

Today, many families around the world take part in designing and creating these beautiful candy covered houses.  According to Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. Chinese recipes were developed during the 10th century and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had their own version of gingerbread. 

My mother started the tradition of making Gingerbread houses with my brother and I when we were about six. Like the children in the fairytale, we were enticed bythe thought of sneaking candy.  We enjoyed the freedom to create as our home filled with the smell of ginger. 


 Photo Credit: Liz Watkins

Photo Credit: Liz Watkins