The Origins (and Types) of Christmas Cookies

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The Origins (and Types) of Christmas Cookies

The Origins (and Types) of Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are a tradition that families and friends enjoy globally during the holiday season. These cookies are unlike regular cookies, as they are heavily doused with the spices that are found commonly in the months leading up to Christmas and hearty in texture and sweetness. While many of us enjoy these cookies each Christmas season, many wonder how they began and where these famous and familiar cookies that lift spirits during the Holidays actually originated.

When did Christmas cookies begin?

The numerous Christmas cookies that are enjoyed by all have founded in spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Because these spices were originally exotic trading spices, many of those celebrating Christmas or the onset of the winter season began using them in pastries in the Middle Ages. Spreading across several continents, with the use of the Silk Road and the initial global trading system, these expenses spices would be used at that special time of year when baking was essential and a celebration was being had before the cold weather set in. 

How about those decorations?

As these spiced cookies became popular and affiliated with the Christmas holiday, decorations were added to them, bringing us the modern Christmas cookie. Since these cookies were able to be used as gifts for neighbors and friends, families began decorating them. They were also decorated as a way to tell stories and depict the Christian Christmas story, the Birth of Jesus. 

Since these times, they have taken both religious and secular decorations at the holidays, and the decorating is an integral part of these cookies for families across the globe celebrating the Christmas season. No matter which flavor, spice, or type of cookie, the decorations have become a significant staple for these cookies at Christmas. 

Types of Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies range from spices and flavors to various textures, depending on their origin and culture behind the cookie. Below are some of the most popular Christmas cookie options that are enjoyed each year during the Holiday season across the world. 

Gingerbread Cookies

One of the most popular Christmas cookies is the gingerbread cookie. Since the Middle Age Crusades, gingerbread cookies have been an integral part of Christmas. The blend of ginger spices with sugar makes this household favorite. During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, she had her bakers cultivate the infamous gingerbread man cookies that we all know and love. 

Sugar Cut-out Cookies

Dating back to the Colonial era, mumming in homes began the tradition that we now know as cut-out cookies. Cookie-cutters became a staple in the early 1900s for homes in America and the Christmas shapes began.

With Santa Claus being introduced in the mid-1800s, the Pennsylvania Dutch community had made their own spin on these cookies and they began taking the shapes of people and later Santa Claus. These cookies, made of sugar and icing, became sweet treats that are still enjoyed today. 

Moravian Cookies

One of the spicier cookies found at Christmas is the Moravian cookies. A tradition that began in the mid-1740s, these cookies are shaped in triangles and used for decoration up until Christmas Eve for the Church services. 

Krumkake Cookies

Another Christmas cookie favorite is Krumkake that originated in Norway. A thin, wafer-texture cookie, it is baked on the stove-top today. They often take the shape of a cone. Some of the earliest Krumkake cookies took on a lemony flavor. While some still have this traditional taste, some versions have expanded into other flavors that are more common throughout the Holiday. 

Experience Christmas Cookies this Holiday season!

Once used as a delicacy and gift favors for celebrations, these cookies are found in stores, bakeries, and home kitchens everywhere. As the time for Christmas cookies approaches, you will have a little more appreciation for these cookies that have so much history in their little shapes and flavors. 

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