History of the Gingerbread House

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 27,337

    Joanne Seelig: Welcome back, my name is Joanne Seelig and I am the Family Programs Coordinator at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. You are here to make a gingerbread house. Well, before we get ready to build, it might help to know a little bit of a history in gingerbread.

    Joanne Seelig

    Joanne Seelig is the current Family Programs Coordinator at the National Building Museum. An arts educator, administrator and performer she has worked in a variety of cultural organizations in Boston, MA, Berkeley, CA, and Washington, D.C.  She received her Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education and her BA in Theatre from Washington University in St. Louis.

    Joanne Seelig: Welcome back, my name is Joanne Seelig and I am the Family Programs Coordinator at the National Building Museum in Washington DC. You are here to make a gingerbread house. Well, before we get ready to build, it might help to know a little bit of a history in gingerbread. Did you know that gingerbread dates back all the way to the 11th century? It goes back that far. By the 17th century in Europe, many gingerbread bakers recognized as professionals and in fact only professional gingerbread bakers were recognized to make gingerbread. In Nuremberg, Germany, it became the self-proclaimed capital of gingerbread.

    You might be familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel where the brother and the sister come upon a gingerbread house in the wood. Well, that house is the witch s home; it is no big surprise that the Germans chose to make this house, a gingerbread house. Hansel and Gretel is a grimes fairy tale and it happens to be German. It is not just because of this story that gingerbread became popular in the United States, many Europeans immigrated to the United States and by the 19th century gingerbread had become very popular in the US.

    Here at the National Building Museum, we like to celebrate the holidays by making gingerbread houses. We find that this activity is fun for families and it teaches onto work together and also think about architectural design. What makes a building strong, just it just depends on its material? That also the shape and I encourage you to think about rectangles and triangles as you build this house.

    Well now that you know a little bit about the history, I think you are ready to build.