CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
12 Days of German Christmas: Day 11
Today we take a look at one more Christmas tradition that has ties to Germany: Gingerbread houses! Gingerbread didn’t come from Germany, instead the earliest gingerbread was made by either the ancient Greeks or Egyptians. It didn’t come to Europe until the 11th century when the crusaders brought some ginger back from their excursions.
What sets Germany apart in the Gingerbread world (doesn’t that sound delicious?) are two of its native sons: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, better known as the brothers Grimm. Perhaps you remember a story they wrote about another set of siblings: Hansel and Gretel.
The fairytale featured a home made of gingerbread that enticed the brother and sister right into the witch’s hands. Imagine a house made of gingerbread, covered with candy and frosting! This image encouraged many Germans to try and make gingerbread houses. German emigrants to America brought the Lebkuchenhaus tradition with them.
While many families all over the globe now make gingerbread houses sometime during the holiday season, in Germany you will be more likely to find Lebkuchenherzen (Gingerbread hearts). They are available at every Christmas market. For more information about these ubiquitous fancy hearts take a look at this article about Lebkuchenherzen by Sandra Ostrom. Kari also wrote a wonderful article about Fairy Tale Road, a journey you can take to visit many of the sites that inspired the brothers Grimm.