The famous holiday delight – Christmas cookies

Posted on 2 min read

The sweet aroma of a freshly baked cookie reaches your nose. What can be more delightful and cosy for the Christmas holidays? A good peppermint, ginger, or plain sugar cookie? So or so, it always becomes a centrepiece of a holiday table. But how did the first Christmas cookie come to be, and what is its history?

A centuryold tradition

It’s difficult to say unequivocally. But the chances are that logic behind making cookies and sharing them with your nearest and dearest. This can be traced to solstice rituals from centuries ago. In the past, people celebrated the change of the seasons. And those rituals always revolved around food.

Everybody knew that the upcoming winter was a time of famine. So they tried to stock up and prepare for the colder, darker days. Such preparations could be accompanied by sharing the produce of the last harvest with the community. Eventually, Christmas became popular among people throughout Europe. And the warm tradition of sharing had persisted.

From the rich to other classes

These traditions could be connected with the Age of Exploration. With the discovering of the new lands, novel fruits and spices rushed into Europe. This via new trade routes. Nutmeg, clove, mace, cinnamon, dates were first introduced to the kitchens of the rich. Soon new ingredients started to become more available. They finally got increasingly popular among other classes.

Desserts took their rightful place at the table. People started making sweets with aromatic flavours. The perfect delight for sharing with family members and friends during the Christmas season. A cookie, among other sweet treats, became a kind of symbol of love and gratitude. Or at least so we choose to believe.

From the Dutch to the New World

One of the variants of the etymology of the word “cookie” is the Dutch word “koekje”. Or the more similarity of its dialect variant “koekie”, meaning a little cake. It arrived in American English together with the first Dutch settlements in the USA.

Gingerbread and beyond

There are many favourite festive cookies available. Gingerbread is surely one of the oldest ones, introduced by the soldiers of the Crusades. Nowadays many countries have their unique type of classic and traditional Christmas cookies.

Alsatian cuisine of France has anisbredela. It is a cookie with egg white and aniseed. Norway has fattigmann or Angel wings. This is a type of sweet dough rolled out, cut into strips and then deep-fried until crisp and airy. Germany has anise-flavoured Springerle. And Greece granted us melomakarona. This egg-shaped sweet treat is made from flour, olive oil, and honey.

There are the names and ingredients used to produce the ultimate Christmas cookie. But one thing they have in common: Our heart gets warm, and we get in the right festive mood.

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