History of Christmas Recipes: Decorating Christmas Cookies

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Another favorite Christmas past-time is decorating Christmas cookies.

As early as 1597, Germans began hanging decorated communion wafers on their trees.

The Church of England used a practice called mumming, which used food cut outs to help them depict stories from the Bible. Often these cut outs were made in the shape of the baby Jesus.

Yule dows were made to make the cut outs. By the 1800s, these were called Yule dollies and made of tin cutters. “The face was always made out of a scrap of paper cut out of magazines, which had to be removed before the cookie was eaten.”

Our modern Christmas cookies dates back to the Medieval Europe biscuits. By the 16th Century, Christmas biscuits had spread to Europe, where they were very popular in Germany, Sweden and Norway.

The Dutch are believed to have brought the tradition of Christmas cookies in the 17th Century.

Cookie cutters became available in American markets between 1871 and 1906, with the change of import laws.

The modern day sugar cookie originated with the Moravians, who settled in the Nazareth area of Germany during the mid-18th Century. They are also called the Amish sugar cookies or Nazareth sugar cookies. ” Pennsylvania adopted the Nazareth sugar cookie as the official state cookie in 2001.”

Each country has their own recipe, name and style for preparing and serving Christmas cookies. In the United States, the tradition grew to decorating sugar cookies with icing and colored sugar.

“Different countries throughout Europe each developed their own version of holiday cookies of varying flavors and textures. A brief list of holiday cookies from around the world: Bredala (France), Fattigmann (Norway), Krumkake (Norway), Pepparkakor (Sweden), Pfeffernüsse (Scandinavia), Reposteria (Mexico), Sandbakelse (Norway), Springerle (Germany and Austria), Sugar Cookies (brought to Pennsylvania by the Moravians from Germany).”

The tradition of leaving cookies for Santa began in the United States and Canada in the 1930s. The tradition, which began during the Great Depression, is believed to have been used to encourage generosity in their children.

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