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Gingerbread House Day

Today we celebrate gingerbread houses, which are fun to both build and eat. They started being built in the sixteenth century in Germany. With the publishing of Brothers Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel" in 1812, which featured an edible house in the woods made entirely of candy and gingerbread, their popularity greatly increased. German bakers began making decorated fairytale-like houses out of gingerbread, which became beloved during the Christmas season. The houses started being adorned with candy, confections, and icing—which represented snow. German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought the tradition of gingerbread houses to the new world.

In modern times, gingerbread houses are still commonly built before and during the Christmas and holiday seasons. The baked gingerbread dough that they are built with is usually held together with melted sugar. Other structures, such as castles, cabins, and churches are made from gingerbread as well. Gingerbread houses are made and enjoyed by those with any level of culinary or artistic skill, from professional bakers to small children, who are often assisted by their parents or other adults.

Gingerbread house contests are often held around this time of year. For example, the National Gingerbread House Competition is held at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Gingerbread cities or towns are built in some locations. The gingerbread town in Bergen, Norway and Gingertown in Washington, D.C., are two examples. The record for the World's Largest Gingerbread House was set in Texas in 2013.

How to Observe

Celebrate the day by making a gingerbread house! You could make one from a kit or find a recipe to follow. One way to liven up the day is to invite friends over and have a gingerbread house-building party. You could all work on the same house or village, or everyone could build their own house. You could also have each guest bring a bag of candy to pass, so there are various types of decorations for the house or houses.

Another way to celebrate the day could be to participate in or attend a gingerbread house contest. Check to see if your community is hosting one or head to a famous one such as the National Gingerbread House Competition in Asheville, North Carolina. You could also see a gingerbread city or town. Take a trip to see the gingerbread town in Bergen, Norway, or Gingertown, located in Washington, D.C., and a few other cities. You could even participate in building gingerbread houses for Gingertown! The Fairmont hotel and Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco have rival gingerbread houses that could be visited. Finally, you could spend the day reading the story of "Hansel and Gretel."

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