Gingerbread Decorating Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Run, run as fast as you can!
You can't catch me.
I'm the Gingerbread Man!"
~ Traditional Folk Tale
Folk tales of runaway food type are found in Germany, the British Isles, Eastern Europe, as well the United States. Similar tales include "The Runaway Pancake" from Germany and Scandinavia, "The Roule Galette" from France, and "The Wee Bannock" from Scotland. In Hungary, the tale "The Little Dumpling," contrary to the title, refers not to a dumpling, but to the Hungarian version of runaway head cheese! Recipe included: Gingerbread Shortbread with a Nutmeg Glaze
The Gingerbread Man
The Gingerbread Man (also known as The Gingerbread Boy or The Gingerbread Runner) is a fairy tale about a gingerbread man's escape from various pursuers and his eventual demise between the jaws of a fox. The story is variety of the class of folk tales about runaway food! The gingerbread boy as hero is a uniquely American contribution to this type of folk tale, which appeared in 1875 in the St. Nicholas Magazine:
A childless old woman bakes a gingerbread man who leaps from her oven and runs away. The woman and her husband give chase but fail to catch him. The Gingerbread man then outruns several farm workers and farm animals while taunting them with the phrase:
"I've run away from a little old woman,
A little old man,
And I can run away from you, I can!"
The tale ends with a fox catching and eating the gingerbread man who cries as he's devoured, "I'm quarter gone ... I'm half gone ... I'm three-quarters gone ... I'm all gone!" In other versions, the Gingerbread Man halts in his flight at a riverbank, and after accepting the fox's offer as a ferry, he finds himself eaten mid-stream.
Folk tales of the runaway food type are found in Germany, the British Isles, and Eastern Europe, as well the United States. Similar tales from Germany and Scandinavia include "The Runaway Pancake" with "The Roule Galette" from France.
In Slavic lands, a traditional character known as "Kolobok" is a ball of bread dough who avoids being eaten by various animals.
And in Hungary, in the tale "The Little Dumpling," contrary to the title, the main character is not a dumpling, but the Hungarian version of head cheese!
For the Scottish version of this story, "The Wee Bannock" click the informally dressed gingerbread men.
If you're decorating some gingerbread men in the near future , here's some ideas for gingerbread men in kilts, formal or informal.
And for a special spin on Gingerbread, click the formally kilted Gingerbread Laddies for a recipe for Gingerbread Shortbread with a Nutmeg Glaze.