History of the Gingerbread Man

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(WYTV) – Why do we link gingerbread with Christmas?

The Chinese first cultivated ginger and used it as a medical treatment. From there, it spread to Europe, and during the Middle Ages, cooks used it as a spice to disguise the taste of preserved meats.

Even today, we use ginger as an effective remedy for nausea and other stomach ailments.

During Henry the VIII’s time, bakers brought out expensive ingredients at Christmas and started experimenting with nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.

According to legend, Queen Elizabeth I, of England, was the first to shape gingerbread into men, representing the foreign dignitaries and the diplomats she would serve the dessert to at fancy dinners.

Then, gingerbread became a Christmas symbol because they were a spicy treat to “warm up” those who ate one during the cold winter season.

The Germans came up with the gingerbread house during the 16th century. They decorated them with foil in addition to gold leaf, and thus was born another Christmas tradition.

The idea apparently came from the Brothers Grimm and their story of Hansel and Gretel. The two main characters find a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest.

Very soon, bakers began to create the gingerbread house of Hansel and Gretel.

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