A Grimm story of how gingerbread houses became a holiday favorite
National Gingerbread Cookie Day is meant to motivate folks to get the rolling pin and cookie cutters out of storage. The idea is that baking will warm the home, and the decorating inspires festive designs, tasty cookies, and good memories.
But, sadly, going down the Rabbit Hole of our favorite holiday cookie leads to a dark history behind the Gingerbread Man and the infamous holiday house.
Gingerbread has been a food item since the 15th century. In the 16th century, the first gingerbread man was created by Queen Elizabeth I. She impressed visiting dignitaries by presenting them with one baked in their likeness.
By the late 17th century, Gingerbread became a Christmas favorite, with Russian bakers preparing Gingerbread for men and women. By the 19th century, Gingerbread houses became part of the culture when the Brothers Grimm wrote the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, and a new holiday tradition was born. But that's where things get a bit dark.
Are you familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel? Here's the thumbnail version of a crazy tale of a father and "evil" stepmother who left two young children in the woods during a famine. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough food for everyone, so the new wife convinces the dad that the kids have got to go.
If that wasn't bad enough, the kids are abandoned in the woods, yet somehow manage to leave a trail of pebbles so that they can find a way home. Still, the stepmom remains opposed to caring for the kids, so they're abandoned again, with no way home the second time.
Long story short, the young brother and sister fend for themselves, wandering alone in the wilderness. Until they happen upon a dream house made of Gingerbread, cakes, and candy owned by a blind old lady who takes them into her home.
That's Our Rodeo Tough Trivia Question for Monday, November 21, 2022.
In the Story of Hansel and Gretel, what were the intentions of the old lady who took them into her gingerbread house?
A. She wanted to adopt them and raise them as her own.
B. She tried to help them find their way home.
C. She wanted to teach them to sing & dance and take the show on the road.
D. She tried to fatten them up to eat them.
D - The old witch wanted to fatten Hansel and decided to cook both the kids up for a feast. However, she's foiled when Gretel sees her opportunity to shove the witch into the hot oven, slamming shut the door and burning the witch to ashes. Then Gretel frees Hansel from his cage. They discover and loot the witch's treasure and reunite with their father, who is recently widowed.
It's a dark yet crazy story from the Brothers Grimm. Still, the good news is Gingerbread cookies and houses somehow manage to carry on as a fun holiday tradition.