I hope you all had a great 2nd Advent today! As I already wrote last week there are many things that should not be missed during this time of the year. The Christmas time is full of traditions and rites – this week’s tradition that makes the Christmas time even more special are Christmas cookies.
The tradition originates way before the birth of Christi when the Celts had the tradition of celebrating midwinter in the night of the 21st of December to the 22nd of December which was the longest night of the year. People believed that during that night their homes would be haunted by ghosts and daemons. In order to save and defend themselves, they thought they had to sacrifice some of their animals. However, as they wanted to save their animals, they started baking little figures made of dough in the shape of animals which were then sacrificed instead of the real ones. The little flat breads were made of grounded corn mixed with honey and baked on a hot stone.
Many years later, the Christians copied this tradition but changed the meaning. They mainly baked little Christmas breads and also some Christmas cookies in shape of animals to save their own animals – just like the Celts. However, the first cookies as we know them today are told to be made in medieval monasteries where they had the needed availabilities of getting oriental spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and ginger. Furthermore, the religious background and traditions of the Nativity were reason enough for the festive bakery. One of the Christian legends how today’s Christmas cookies originated is that the shepherds who were on their way to the Nativity forgot to take their breads out of the oven before leaving. However, when they came back there was a lovely sweet smell in the air instead of the scent of burned bread. As they broke the bread into small pieces to try and share it, they tasted something heavenly sweet and called the sacred pastry heavenly bread which ever since was made to remember the night of the Nativity.
Nowadays, the Christmas cookies are something that I think should not be missed during this time of the year. Preparing them together with the family or friends is always a special time and brings the Christmas vibes. In some countries there is also the tradition to prepare a little plate with cookies and milk for Santa Clause when he comes to bring the presents. Some people also hang their cookies as decoration on their Christmas trees. This tradition originates from the legend of Saint Nikolaus who helped poor people and donated three golden apples to a father so he could save his daughters. After the years the apples and Christmas cookies, which were something special for the people of that time, were used as decoration.