Audiophile: Listen Smarter

The surprisingly dark origins of festive gingerbread

There’s a reason Christmas gingerbread houses might remind you of Hansel and Gretel

Gingerbread houses and cookies are popular both as decorations and desserts during the holidays. But how did gingerbread become so closely linked with Christmas? The origins of this tradition lie in gingerbread's long-standing role as a treat for feasts and fairs. The relatively stiff dough allowed bakers to create intricately decorated cookies in shapes for almost every seasonal occasion.

But it would take a German holiday tradition — as well as a beloved fairytale about an edible house, a deceitful witch, and two lost children — to turn the gingerbread house into the Christmas tradition we know today. Listen to the podcast below to hear the short, but surprisingly dark origins of this festive treat.

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