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Gingerbread houses: Where did the festive tradition get its start?

(WTAJ) — Gingerbread houses are a popular part of the holiday season — whether you like to create and eat them, or just keep them as decoration.

But do you know where the tradition started?

Historians agree that gingerbread houses originated in Germany. But to really get to the root of the matter, you’ll have to go back about 5,000 years to China ,when the ginger root was discovered. According to Food Network, the ginger root was first used for medicinal purposes, and it still is today.

Ginger eventually found its way to Europe (some believe it was used in Ancient Greece too), and into Germany, where the house-making started.

In the 16th century, Germans began making cookie-walled houses around the same time “Hansel and Gretel” was published, PBS said. The story, written by the Brothers Grimm, concerned two young children get lost in a forest before finding a witch with a house made of gingerbread.

It is still unclear whether the trend inspired the story or the story inspired the trend — but the idea took off in Germany, which is also where the Grimms were from.

It wasn’t long after that the gingerbread houses made their way to the Americas. After a slow-ish start, gingerbread house-making soon became tied to Christmas in North America — likely thanks to the original German decorative style that was already reminiscent of the holiday, according to Food Network.

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