A brief history of the gingerbread house

The witch’s house in the two-centuries-old tale of Hansel and Gretel is today inspiring ever more extravagant gingerbread creations and constructions across Europe and the US

The tradition of decorated gingerbread houses began in Germany in the early 1800s, supposedly popularised after the not-so-Christmassy fairytale of Hansel and Gretel was published in 1812. The Grimms’ original fairy tale includes the line: “When they came nearer they saw that the house was built of bread, and roofed with cakes, and the window was of transparent sugar.” (In later versions it became gingerbread, rather than just bread.) Inspired by the story, German bakers began to craft small decorated houses from lebkuchen, spiced honey biscuits.

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