“What came first,” my husband asked when I made this gingerbread house last year, “the pastry or the fairy tale?”
Good question. So I looked it up. According to the internet (scholarly fount of all wisdom), there isn’t any clear indication of when the first gingerbread house made its appearance on the scene of Christmas goodies, but it does seem that it was after the Grimms’ “Hansel and Gretel” became popular. Gingerbread men or other gingerbread figures for gift-giving had been around since the Middle Ages, more or less, but shaping it into a house and glueing candy on it seems to have been inspired by this lovely story of child abandonment, attempted infanticide, and cannibalism.
I have to say that that fairy tale was never one of my favourites – I prefer stories without bad guys, and this one has not only one very bad witch, but a nasty…
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