Did you know that gingerbread cookies have their own national day? Keep reading for more about National Gingerbread Cookie Day and get a gingerbread cookie recipe to share.
Gingerbread has been around for centuries, and has evolved and changed over the years. National Gingerbread Cookie Day celebrates this tasty treat with a sweet flavor, and the history of gingerbread is rich and interesting.
National days of the year are a great way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with throughout the year.
To learn more, be sure to check out my National Day’s Guide to discover some fun days to celebrate these special days.
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What is National Gingerbread Cookie Day?
National Gingerbread Cookie Day is a holiday that falls annually on November 21st, celebrating gingerbread cookies.
Though gingerbread goes as far back as ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, what we think of as gingerbread today was brought to Europe by Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis in 992 CE.
Gingerbread cookies didn’t come into our history until the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I created gingerbread men cookies to resemble her suitors, guests, and visiting dignitaries.
Her guests were very impressed with her cookies, and they became very popular in England.
They also became a superstitious way to attract a husband. Unmarried English women would have gingerbread “husbands” made to attract potential husbands. These cookies would be made in the image of the husbands these women hoped to attract, and eaten to bring them good luck.
Fun Facts About Gingerbread Cookies
Brush up on your knowledge of gingerbread cookies with these fun facts. Some may surprise you!
- In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I created the first gingerbread men cookies.
- Single women in England ate gingerbread “husbands” (cookies modeled in the image of the husband they hoped to find) for good luck. It was thought that eating a gingerbread “husband” would lead to finding a real one!
- In the 1600s, Nuremberg, Germany was named the gingerbread capital of the world. Today, it still remains the gingerbread capital of the world.
- A Swedish tradition says that you can make a wish on a gingerbread wishing cookie. Make a wish and place the cookie in the palm of your left hand. Press down on the center with you right thumb, and if it breaks into three pieces, and you eat them without saying a word, your wish it said to come true!
- In 1875 a folk tale called The Gingerbread Man (and also The Gingerbread Boy) was written and published in the St. Nicholas Magazine.
- Historically, only special gingerbread bakers were allowed to make gingerbread year round as it was a sacred practice. The only times people who were not a part of a special gingerbread baking guild could bake gingerbread was during Christmas and Easter.
- There are many different gingerbread cookie recipes, including one from George Washington’s Mother, Mary Ball Washington.
- There are three national days that have to do with gingerbread, National Gingerbread Day, National Gingerbread Cookie Day and National Gingerbread House Day.
How to Celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day
Would you like to celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day in a special way? Try one of these ideas.
- Host a gingerbread cookie exchange! Bake a bunch of gingerbread cookies and have your friends over to help you celebrate – They’ll be happy to decorate the cookies with you if they get to sample some of the gingerbread.
- Turn back time and read a copy of the 1875 the Gingerbread Man (also called the Gingerbread Boy) folk story.
- Try Mary Ball Washington’s recipe for gingerbread cookies (linked above in the fun facts section.) In addition to being George Washington’s mother, she has a very tasty gingerbread cookie recipe.
- Take a trip to Nuremberg, Germany and try a lebkuchen (gingerbread cookie).
- Make gingerbread garland now, so you can use it to decorate your Christmas tree!
- Spread the word on social media using the hashtag #NationalGingerbreadCookieDay. Here is a tweet to get you started:
Of course, the best way to celebrate National Gingerbread Cookie Day is to make some gingerbread cookies. Check out the recipe in the card at the bottom of this post.
More National Days in November
There are close to 2000 National Days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in November.
Is food your thing? Each day of November has a food or drink associated with it, too.
Be sure to also check out these National Days this Month:
- Looking for a beverage to serve this month with your gingerbread cookies? Check out my guide for Apple Cider Day – it even has a recipe for homemade hot, spiced, apple cider!
- National Candy Day is a perfect national day for anyone with a sweet tooth.
- Do you love peanut butter, and fudge? If you do, then National Peanut Butter Fudge Day is calling your name! This sweet treat has it’s own national day!
- Looking for a day less geared towards food in November? Then Guy Fawkes Day (also called Bonfire Night and Firework Night) is the one for you.
Pin This Post on National Gingerbread Cookie Day for Later
Would you like a reminder of this post for National Gingerbread Cookie Day? Just pin this image to one of your holiday boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
- 3 cups all purpose flour (360 grams)
- 1/4 tablespoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (142 grams)
- 1 egg
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup molasses (170 grams)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest or orange zest (finely grated)
- powdered sugar for topping the cookies (optional)
- icing for topping the cookies (optional)
- In a bowl, combine your dry ingredients together and set to the side (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger).
- In a stand mixer, or large bowl, beat the brown sugar, egg and butter together.
- Add the molasses, vanilla and lemon/orange zest.
- Take your bowl of dry ingredients, and add slowly to the mixture (a little bit at a time, then mix, then add more).*
- Divide the dough into to equal portions, and roll into balls.
- Let them sit at room temperate for about 2 hours.**
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Line a cookie sheet with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Lightly flour the top of the dough and a rolling pin.***
- Roll the dough so it's 1/4" thick.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough (there are lots of fun shaped cookies, but the gingerbread men shaped ones are my favorite!).
- When putting the cookies on the cookie sheet, make sure to space them about 1 1/2 inches apart.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes.****
- Allow the cookies to cool slightly, until they can be transferred to a cooling rack.
- Once on the cookies are on the cooling rack, let them cool completely.
- When your cookies are completely cool you can decorate them however you like! Powdered sugar and icing are popular and tasty toppings.
*Adding the dry ingredients slowly, then mixing will yield a smoother, and less clumpy dough.
**If you're going to make the dough ahead of time, that's ok! It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Make sure when you're ready to make the recipe that you bring it back to room temperature.
***If you find the dough is sticking to the rolling pin or your rolling surface, add a little more flour and it will prevent this.
****If you bake them closer to 7 minutes, they'll be softer, and if you bake them closer to 10 minutes they'll be a little more crisp.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 155mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.
Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess Speake has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.
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