Gingerbread Houses are made at Christmastime in Germany, the US and other countries around the world.
Gingerbread Houses are intricately linked to the Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. In the story, two children, Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods. They come upon a house made of gingerbread covered in frosting and candy. Unfortunately, it’s the house of the wicked witch. She befriends the kids, fattens them up and tries to eat them. Fortunately, Hansel and Gretel escape in the end.
No one knows for certain if making Gingerbread Houses was inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel, or the reverse, if Gingerbread Houses were already being made and that inspired the tale.
In Germany, there’s a rhyme that’s said about Gingerbread Houses that comes directly from the story of Hansel and Gretel (the witch says it in the story). You can read it below in German with an English translation:
Knusper, knusper, knäuschen,
wer knuspert an meinem Häuschen?
Der Wind, der Wind,
das himmlische Kind.
Nibble, nibble, gnaw
Who is nibbling at my little house?
The wind, the wind
The heavenly child.
The first two lines are the ones most often quoted in connection to Gingerbread Houses.
Another fun fact is that in German Gingerbread Houses are sometimes called ‘Hexenhaus" (Witch’s House).
In the US, when people make Gingerbread Houses they don’t usually think of Hansel and Gretel. They mainly associate Gingerbread Houses with the joys of Christmastime.
It’s interesting to see how traditions develop and change around the world.
In the book Grimm’s Fairy Stories you can read the story of Hansel and Gretel.
This article was posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 12:25 pm and is filed under Books & Stories, Christmas, Christmas Recipes, Countries & Cultures, Desserts, Fairy Tales, German, German Nursery Rhymes, Germany, Gingerbread Houses, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Hansel and Gretel, Holiday Recipes, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Recipes of the World, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
5 Responses to “Gingerbread Houses & The Story of Hansel and Gretel”
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September 3rd, 2019 at 6:10 am
September 3, 2019
I have a question about the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. Didn’t the witch stuff them both in her oven, before they escaped? It wasn’t mentioned in the caption.
September 3rd, 2019 at 1:17 pm
Usually Hansel and Gretel push the witch into the oven and that’s how they escape.
December 5th, 2019 at 12:23 pm
Can you just tell me what animal is in the roof? We have the same one and I’m searching for an answer lol
December 5th, 2019 at 1:56 pm
I think it’s a cat. I got this Gingerbread House from Trader Joe’s a few years back. It was eaten up a long time ago! :)
December 22nd, 2020 at 4:19 pm
In the 1st edition of Grimm’s Tales, Hansel is locked in the stable and being fattened up by the witch. It is Gretel who pushes the witch into the oven, locks the oven door and leaves the witch to burn to death. Gretel then rescues Hans. Gretel is the heroine of the tale, but let’s not think too much about a child committing murder.