Being synonymous with many traditions, the art of cookie making stands firm in many cultures and spans across the globe. Gingerbread men to chocolate crinkle, sugar cookies adorned with colorful icing, and one of our favorites, the Russian tea cookie, this awesome activity brings families and friends together! Exploring the magic of making holiday cookies, we will find the best varieties to bake with children, and take a journey into some of the traditions that have shaped this tradition worldwide.
Baking with Children
The joy of baking is even sweeter (except for the clean up!) when shared with little hands eager to roll, mix, and decorate. When baking with children, opt for recipes that are simple, forgiving, and, most importantly, fun. Classics like sugar cookies, gingerbread, and snickerdoodles are perfect choices. They allow for creative expression with various shapes and decorations while being deliciously enjoyable for all ages. Keep in mind that baking with children also fosters social, emotional, physical, cognitive growth with an emphasis on language development and social experiences. Also, children will learn math, science, and art just by baking!
Holiday Cookie Traditions
The tradition of baking holiday cookies has roots that span across cultures. In the United States, the custom is believed to have been brought over by European immigrants. These delicious treats became a way to celebrate the season, share with loved ones, and create lasting memories.
Favorites from Around the World
- Classic Sugar Cookies: A canvas for creative expression, these cookies are often cut into festive shapes and adorned with vibrant icing and sprinkles.
- Gingerbread Men: A holiday staple, gingerbread cookies offer a perfect blend of spices and the opportunity for imaginative decorating.
- Lebkuchen: These spiced cookies, often likened to gingerbread, are a beloved German tradition. They come in various shapes and are sometimes coated with chocolate.
- Pizzelle: Delicate, snowflake-shaped cookies, these are a cherished Italian holiday treat. Often flavored with anise or vanilla, they are a light and delightful addition to festive celebrations.
- Pepparkakor: These Swedish ginger snaps are thin, crisp, and spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. They are commonly shaped into hearts or stars.
European Influences in the United States
Many holiday cookie traditions in the United States have their roots in European baking customs. The German tradition of decorating gingerbread houses, for example, has become a popular activity during the holiday season. Similarly, the practice of baking and sharing various types of spiced cookies mirrors European customs brought over by settlers.
While certain holiday cookies, like sugar cookies and gingerbread, are ubiquitous across the United States, there are regional variations. In the South, you might find more pecan-based treats, like pralines. In the Midwest, kolaches and cringle are popular. The diversity of cultural influences in the United States results in a delightful array of holiday cookie traditions that vary from state to state.
Popular Christmas Holiday Favorites
Some cookies have become synonymous with Christmas celebrations across the nation:
- Peppermint Bark Cookies: A refreshing combination of chocolate and peppermint.
- Thumbprint Cookies: Filled with jams or chocolate, these cookies are a festive favorite.
- Snickerdoodles: Coated in cinnamon and sugar, these soft and chewy cookies are a timeless classic.
Whether you’re following family recipes passed down through generations or adding your unique twist to classic favorites, the act of baking holiday cookies is a celebration of love, togetherness, and the sweetness of the season. It’s a tribute to love, unity, and shared customs that connect us across generations – it doesn’t matter if we’re keeping grandmother’s secret recipe alive or jazzing up age-old classics with a fresh spin.