Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Traditions Trivia Series: Cookies

Celebrating Jesus’ birthday. . . simply the best!  I love, love, love this time of year!!!

1950s old time card

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.”

a Dutch Christmas 

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.” 

American Cookery

“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.

Queen Victoria and Prince 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.

Christmas baking 

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?

Signature red



Billie Jo said...

Loved this, my friend...
And love cookies in this house!
We love the traditional chocolate chip, chocolate crinkle, Snicker doodle, and, peanut mom always made molasses. Maybe I'll they some of those this year. : )

sunnyskiesandsweettea said...

Cookies are my favorite! I make them for all of our friends and business associates....Thank you for the history lesson.

Amy jo

Mrs.T said...

Christmas cookies!!! Oh, so much fun, and so many, many memories the very words conjure up. My mom always baked special Christmas cookies, and I carried on the tradition with my own kids. It thrills me to see my daughters carrying it on with their little ones.

My favorites -- maybe whipped shortbread; sacher torte cookies (chocolate with raspberry or apricot jam and a chocolate topping); eggnog logs -- really, they're all my favorites. You can find the recipes on my Christmas blog!

Jazzmin said...

I so love the vintage, olden days feels of this post! It was so fun and interesting to read about the traditions of different cookies that have entered our culture. It reminds me to be thankful for how Germany and other places' recipes have become a part of America.

It is also so neat to see the vintage and old-fashioned pictures you used. I love them, they are so lovely.

It was a joy to read your comment today, as well! Thank you. I hope that you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving as well, and that you are feeling well!


Stephanie said...

What fascinating history, my sweet friend! And now you have me craving cookies....thanks :) I do love a good cookie with a hot cup of coffee - maybe tomorrow I shall bake some....and probably eat most of them too :) haha I hope you are doing well, friend. You have been in my prayers :) Hugs to you!

Marlou McAlees said...

what a great post :) love it and all those amazing photo's from Christmas past, thank you for taking time to research this and share :) ♥

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