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Why Do We Make Christmas Cookies?

**Today’s blog was written by Spotlight’s intern, Amelia.**

So Many Kinds of Cookies!

Powdered sugar! Berry jam! Candy canes! Red and green sprinkles! What do all of these things have in common? We use these ingredients to make Christmas cookies. In some Western countries like the United States, people make Christmas cookies. Then they leave them out for Santa to eat on Christmas Eve. Or they might give plates of cookies to their neighbors. Many families even have special recipes for cookies they only eat at Christmastime! But why cookies?

BONUS: Watch Liz make Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

My Family Tradition

In my family, we always set aside one day in December. On this day, we have one goal: make as many Christmas cookies as our kitchen will hold! We make gingerbread men, sugar cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, snickerdoodles and more! We use peppermint candy canes, and chocolate chips, and frosting! My brother and I used to play a game. We would see how many cookies we could steal before my mother noticed.

But why does my family, and many others, bake cookies to celebrate Christmas? Many people may not know this, but people have been giving cookies to their neighbors and friends in winter for thousands of years!

Cookies Are An Old Tradition

People celebrate Winter festivals all around the world. These traditions have continued for thousands and thousands of years up until now. Winter festivals were a chance to gather with others before cold months. They were about feasting! Feasts involved using food before it could go bad – and preparing for the months when there would be less food.

Oftentimes, people would give small, sweet or spiced “cookies” to each other, because these were treats that could last a long time. In Medieval Europe, they were called “cookies”. It was popular to make them with ginger, or nutmeg. For wealthy families, they could use sugar or butter to make sweeter treats. There is one cookie people make today that is close to how ancient people made them. And we still eat that cookie today! It is called the gingerbread cookie.

Gingerbread men cookies
Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Gingerbread Men Cookies Are A Classic Cookie

Today, people make gingerbread with ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and nutmeg, among other things.

In Medieval Europe, people also made gingerbread with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. And if families could afford it, they would add molasses to make it sweeter.

Today, we often see gingerbread men. They are shaped like little people. But the people of Medieval Europe did not make gingerbread into the shape of people.

Queen Elizabeth I of England made it popular to shape gingerbread cookies into people and other shapes. She had many guests for big parties. For fun, she made her bakers make gingerbread to look like her guests! They would even have outfits to look like her guests.

Traditions are very important. They help us to slow down and make happy memories. This year, maybe it is time to make a new tradition—you could try a new cookie recipe! You can even try my family’s Gingerbread cookie recipe at the bottom of this post.

No matter how you celebrate holidays, it is fun to know that people all over the world, for hundreds of years, have celebrated too.

Want to learn more fun facts about Christmas? Watch or listen to our Youtube video on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or watch our Christmas conversation for a Christmas-y advanced program!

What treats do you make to celebrate holidays? Have you made cookies before?

-Amelia

Download Amelia’s Family recipe here

You can also try this recipe (with video)

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Further reading

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