Celebrating Jesus’ birthday. . . simply the best! I love, love, love this time of year!!!
As we make preparations to do so, do you ever wonder where some of the traditions began? This month, I will feature a few of those traditions in a series of posts.
Today, it’s Christmas Cookies!
The English word cookie comes from the Dutch word “kookje,” which means “little cake.”
The history of cookies can be traced back to Medieval European biscuits. Across Europe, by the 16th century, Christmas biscuits had become popular, with mothers intent to bake special sweets for their children.
It was fun reading this excerpt from The American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, which was published in 1796, where she writes:
“Another Christmas Cookey…Kneed all together well, roll three quarters of an inch thick, and cut or stamp into shape and slice you please, bake slowly fifteen or twenty minutes; tho’ hard and dry at first, if put in an earthen pot, and dry cellar, or damp room, they will be finer, softer and better when six months old.”
“Cookey” - cute spelling but I don’t think I would want to eat six month old cookies! :)
Gingerbread cookies have been around for a long time, and weren’t associated in particular with Christmas until Queen Victoria. She is credited with making them a popular tradition of Christmas as they were a part of her Christmas Day menu, along with following other imported German folk traditions of her Prince Consort, Albert.
Nationalities sometimes have their own specialty Christmas cookies. One of my favorites are Papparkakor cookies which are Swedish. These spicy ginger and cinnamon flavored cookies that were traditionally cut out in flower & heart shapes, became a favorite in my family when I tried a delicious recipe that you can find here.
A popular Mexican Christmas cookie is called Reposteria, which is a sugary shortbread cookie coated in cinnamon. Pepernoten are ball shaped cookies that were a baking tradition in Holland, and the popular Norwegian Christmas cookie Krumkake is a thin wafer that is oftentimes filled with cream. (I haven’t tried these three types of cookies, but if you are interested, you can click on them to see recipes.)
I love to bake spritz cookies at Christmastime. I find it fun to use a cookie press and they are quite tasty! These delicate, buttery cookies are originally German biscuits that are called Spritzgebäck. Germany is credited with introducing cookie cutters to the United States at the end of the 19th century, also.
I hope that the kick-off to your Christmas season is overflowing with fun and festivities! What are your favorite Christmas cookies to bake this time of year?