On a quiet Tuesday evening in December, one room at St. John’s University buzzed with holiday cheer. The German Club at St. Ben’s and St. John’s kicked off the holiday season making gingerbread houses, courtesy of local Paula Doebler. Paula runs Mama’s Homemade Baked Goods out of Albany, MN, and is frequently featured at the St. Joseph Farmer’s Market. With her two daughters, she supplied the gingerbread, icing and all the decorations needed to make a sweet creation.
Thirty-five CSB/SJU students participated in the event, and all enjoyed the holiday cheer of Christmas music while decorating the houses. Every student received the same house pattern, but with spiced gumdrops, pretzels, marshmallows, fruit loops and peppermint candies as decoration, none of the houses looked the same.
Paula enjoyed seeing the varieties of houses from the group, and the students took a welcome break from studying. “This activity was such a great idea,” one student said excitedly. “Thank you so much!”
Making gingerbread houses celebrates a Germanic tradition now popular all over the world. The Grimm Brothers made gingerbread famous in the 1800s with their fairy tale Hansel and Gretl. But long before that, ginger was discovered in the 11th century and quickly became a highly-prized commodity, spawning culinary exploration and leading to the creation of lebkuchen. Lebkuchen is spiced bread and the ancestor of our gingerbread. Today, Nuremburg, Germany, is considered the Gingerbread Capital of the World, famous for its wide selection of lebkuchen.
The CSB/SJU German Club is dedicated to celebrating Germanic traditions in central Minnesota and inspiring understanding of and appreciation for German culture.