December has arrived and like every year the cookie baking season has begun. We have some talented bakers in our team, who spend many evenings baking a zillion cookies. The tradition seems to have spread far and wide, but did you ever ask yourself where it actually started and what the reason for it was? We searched around and found some interesting explanations.
Cookies have been part of festive holiday rituals long before Christmas to mark significant occasions. The history of Christmas cookies can be traced back to recipes from Medieval Europe. During that time many new ingredients were introduced to the west such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruits. These ingredients were highly prized and families could only afford to incorporate them into baked goods during the most important holidays and that led to extensive baking during Christmas. By the 16th century Christmas cookies had become popular across Europe and families baked up cookies in various sizes and shapes related to Christmas. They were then shared with friends, family and neighbours. Gingerbread is the most famous Christmas cookie in Germany and it has evolved over the years into a cake like pastry. Its origin dates back to the crusades when soldiers brought spices back to Europe. Eventually it became associated with Christmas when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert inluded it with a variety of other German Christmas traditions.
In the 17th century German and Dutch settlers introduced cookie cutters and decorative molds to the USA. The availability of these utensils facilitated the increase in recipes in popular cookbooks. The cookie baking tradition has come a long way, but certain things never change. Our modern Christmas cookies still contain the traditional spices. It is the most wonderful time of the year and we are ready to bake the next batch.
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