The tale of the gingerbread house

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Sacred Heart students decorating their gingerbread houses at Come Home for Christmas. Katie McCabe ’18

Every holiday season communities gather to construct and decorate gingerbread houses with a variety of sweet treats. While this tradition is a creative and often entertaining activity, gingerbread houses carry a deeper historical meaning.
An Armenian monk introduced gingerbread to Europe in 992. After being baked into shapes of saints for religious ceremonies up until the seventeenth century, gingerbread became commonly associated with Christmas in Russia, according to epicureandculture.com. Russians then began to craft gingerbread into the shapes of men and women, according to epicureandculture.com.
Gingerbread houses became a part of Christmas celebrations following the publication of Hansel and Gretel by Brothers Grimm in 1812. In the German fairy tale, a brother and sister run into a house in the woods made out of gingerbread, icing, and candy. The publication of this narrative inspired gingerbread house making, as gingerbread houses mimic the witch’s house described in Hansel and Gretel
According to confectionarychalet.com, gingerbread first came to America when German immigrants came to Pennsylvania. Today, during the holiday season, customers can buy pre-baked gingerbread house kits.
Gingerbread house decorating contests take place throughout America. There is an annual National Gingerbread House Competition located in North Carolina, according to epicureandculture.com. This competition displays gingerbread houses from all over America. This year, the winning gingerbread houses will be on display at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, November 28 through January 5, 2017, according to omnihotels.com

Sacred Heart students decorating their gingerbread houses at Come Home for Christmas. Katie McCabe '18
Sacred Heart students decorating their gingerbread houses at Come Home for Christmas.
Katie McCabe ’18

The reputable judges evaluate the houses on overall appearance, originality and creativity, difficulty, precision, and consistency of theme, according to epicureandculture.com. This year was the twenty-fourth annual National Gingerbread House Competition, according to omnihotels.com.   
Members of the Sacred Heart Greenwich community participated in this holiday tradition by decorating their own gingerbread houses at the fourth annual Come Home for Christmas event Sunday, December 4 in the Dubois Gymnasium. Children and adults alike bought and decorated two hundred gingerbread houses at this event and all the proceeds from Come Home for Christmas went to the Faculty and Staff Professional Development Fund. 
“I participated in the gingerbread decorating activity and enjoyed it because I was able to build community and decorate my house with younger kids as well,” sophomore Sara Hecht said.
-Katie McCabe, Staff Writer