Decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. According to my research, the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm’s fairytale Hansel and Gretel, in which two children, abandoned in the forest, find an edible witch’s house made of bread and sugar decorations…you know how it goes. After the book was published in 1812, German bakers began creating these ornamental fairytale houses of “lebkuchen,” which is German for “gingerbread.”
Before long, these little houses became popular during the Christmas season and a new tradition had begun.
All things gingerbread sure haven’t changed much in the years since its deluctible beginnings in Germany. Immigrants brought the cookie delights to American when they came here and markets all around the world still sell decorated gingerbreads houses and villages.
Few have even taken it further:
- In Bergen, Norway, people and children get to create a gingerbread city each year. The tradition began in 1991 and is today, the largest gingerbread city in the world…small scale, of course.
- Just this year, a group in Bryan, TX broke the Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread house by creating an edible – you read that right: edible! – 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to aid a local hospital. Believe it or not, this record was previously owned by the Mall of America.
- There are Gingerbread House Competitions held all over the world each year.
- The list goes on.
In years past, my church group has held our own miniature version of a gingerbread house competition – see photos:
Granted, we used graham crackers instead, but fun, right?
I personally am not a huge fan of gingerbread, but I do enjoy baking and creating treats each year. Over Thanksgiving weekend (Black Friday), I opt to kick-off my annual holiday bake-off, which I started three years ago. During that time, I make anywhere from 12-32 dozen cookies and 4-5 lbs. of fudge. All of them are made with butter and sugar substitutes, making them less in fat and lighter in sugar content (not to mention calories).
I rarely keep any of those treats for myself. I used to, three years ago, before I decided to start leading a healthier life. I may not eat as many sweets as used to, but I do allow myself the smaller-portioned amount at each holiday festivity I attend. Note small.
Instead, I share what I make with the people in my life – my friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. In a way, sharing these treats connects to sharing the love of Christ with those around me. I don’t expect anything in return – I share and give because I want to. And with that, I’ll leave you with this fun read: The Gingerbread Gospel.
*I’ve tweaked it some as the original was written in a way that children could understand it. Please let your mindset be that of a child while reading through this.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a life-sized gingerbread house? What would your favorite candy house be made out of? What would you use for beds, chairs, pillows, toys? (Best shared with children…hear them out…or better yet, let your own imagination flow).
That would almost seem like the perfect place to live, wouldn’t it? Well, the Bible tells us about a real live ‘perfect place to live.’ It’s called Heaven. Long ago, that’s where Jesus lived. But God decided to send Jesus from His perfect house in Heaven to Earth (John 6.39).
What was the first house Jesus liked in on Earth – a stable.
What is a stable? A barn.
What would it have looked liked? What would have been in that stable? What would it have smelled like? And Jesus’ first bed was a manger. What is a manger? (Luke 2.1-7)
Was it anything like the perfect place Jesus came from?
[I’m actually remembering the barn I grew up working in…back home….dairy air…or derriere, depending on how you look at it, and I can’t help but wonder, why there?]
Now, why do you think that God would send His own Son from a perfect house in heaven, to a dirty, smelly, cold place like a stable?
Because He loves us very much!
[God wants us] to know Him so He sent [Jesus] to tell you and show you all about God. Jesus did just that. He taught us about God, and the things that He taught are all written down for us in the Bible (John 3.16).
On day, when Jesus was still a young man, He left his home on Earth. He died for all [our sins]. And now He has a new home.
Do you know where that is?
[He has forgiven us our sins and we’ve been made free! (John 14.15-17)]
He [has done so] that we can all live with Him forever in that perfect , wonderful place (heaven) (Luke 1.31-33; John 6.38-40; John 14.1-3).
Review the types of houses we’ve talked about: heaven, stable/earth, our hearts, heaven.
[Now, look to the gingerbread house] and remember how much Jesus loves you every time you look at it…remember that Jesus wants to be a part of your life and that He has invited you to live with Him in heaven one day.
© Kelly Hancock, http://faithfulprovisions.com/2009/12/07/the-gingerbread-gospel-2/
© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/