|WONDERS OF THE NORTHERN WORLD|
A gingerbread house is a novelty confectionery shaped like a building that is made of cookie dough, cut and baked into appropriate components like walls and roofing. The usual material is crisp ginger biscuit made of gingerbread – the ginger nut. Another type of model-making with gingerbread uses a boiled dough that can be moulded like clay to form edible statuettes or other decorations. These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, often built by children with the help of their parents.
In modern times the tradition has continued in certain places in Europe. In Germany the Christmas markets still sell decorated gingerbread before Christmas. (Lebkuchenhaus or Pfefferkuchenhaus are the German terms for a gingerbread house.) Making gingerbread houses is still a way of celebrating Christmas in many families. They are built traditionally before Christmas using pieces of baked gingerbread dough assembled with melted sugar. The roof tiles can consist of frosting or candy. The gingerbread house yard is usually decorated with icing to represent snow.
A gingerbread house does not have to be an actual house, although it is the most common. It can be anything from a castle to a small cabin, or another kind of building, such as a church, an art museum, or a sports stadium, and other items, such as cars, gingerbread men and gingerbread women, can be made of gingerbread dough.
In Sweden gingerbread houses are prepared on Saint Lucy’s Day. Since 1991, the people of Bergen, Norway, have built a city of gingerbread houses each year before Christmas. Named Pepperkakebyen (Norwegian for “the gingerbread village”), it is claimed to be the world’s largest such city. Every child under the age of 12 can make their own house at no cost with the help of their parents. In 2009, the people of Bergen were shocked when the gingerbread city was destroyed in an act of vandalism. A group of building design, construction, and sales professionals in Washington, D.C., also collaborate on a themed “Gingertown” every year.
In the USA, San Francisco, the Fairmont and St. Francis hotels display rival gingerbread houses during the Christmas season.