Gingerbread House Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Nibble, nibble, like a mouse,
Who's been nibbling at my house?”
~ Hansel and Gretel, The Brothers Grimm
The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s, most likely as a result of the wider publication of the Grimm's fairy tales, with the description of the witch's edible sugar and bread house in the folk tale of Hansel & Gretel. Gingerbread making, however, goes back centuries and is specialized and highly prized art. In the 17th century, only professional gingerbread bakers were permitted to bake it (except at Christmas and Easter, when such restrictions were relaxed).
The town of Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, is famous for its gingerbread. According to local lore, the original recipe for Ashbourne Gingerbread was acquired from from the personal chef of a captured French general of the Napoleonic wars (1799-1815).
In the past, Gingerbread making was a specialized art. Only professional gingerbread bakers in the 17th century were permitted to bake gingerbread (except at Christmas and Easter, when anyone was allowed to bake it).
In England, gingerbread refers to a cake, or a type of biscuit made with ginger. In the biscuit form, it commonly takes the form of a gingerbread man. Gingerbread men were first attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, who allegedly served the figurines to foreign dignitaries.
Parkin is a form soft gingerbread cake made with oatmeal and treacle popular in northern England.
The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. According to certain researchers, the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm‘s fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel” in which the two children abandoned in the forest find an edible house made of bread with sugar decorations. After the book of fairy tales became well known, German bakers began baking ornamented fairy-tale houses of lebkuchen (gingerbread). These became popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with Pennsylvanian German immigrants.
For a special collection of Scottish venues realized in gingerbread, click the gingerbread Castle Urquhart and Loch Ness gingerbread fantasy.
And for the most recent 2018 gingerbread creation of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the magical village of Hogsmeade, set by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling in Scotland, click the its spicy incarnation below for a video tour.