Did you know that gingerbread has a spiritual side?
Baking and eating gingerbread men at Christmas isn’t just about having more cookies.
You can actually use the gingerbread to teach your children and others about the spiritual significance of Christmas!
How to use gingerbread to teach about Jesus
I used to think gingerbread was boring, dry, and no fun at all. Why did anyone want to eat a hard, bitter, spicy cookie?
And what in the world does it have to do with Christmas?
Then, I got wiser.
I learned that gingerbread doesn’t have to be dry or crunchy.
That spicy, molasses-y flavor can come in moist and delicious cakes, drink, and yes, even delicious cookies.
I also learned a bit about the lesson of gingerbread at Christmas.
Could a cookie tell the story of who Jesus really was and what he came to be?
The Spiritual Significance of Gingerbread
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Bread of Life.
“Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:32-35 NIV)
Bread is often used to represent his body, just as in the Last Supper. What specifically makes gingerbread meaningful? It’s the heavy spices that remind us of another essential part of who Jesus was, and his gift to mankind.
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:40 NIV)
It wasn’t just the gift of his presence that he gave when he came to the world. In becoming flesh, Jesus prepared himself to make the ultimate sacrifice, death. Even at Christmastime, when we celebrate his birth, we are reminded of the rest of the story–his death, burial, and resurrection.
A man of bread, laden with spices, represents Jesus, the Bread of Life, who came in human form, died for our sins, to give us life everlasting.
The shape points to Jesus, the spices tell of his death, and the sweetness recalls the sweetness of everlasting life with him!
Teaching Your Children and Others about Jesus with Gingerbread
Now, baking gingerbread men has become an essential part of our Christmas celebrations. As we mix up the dough, I remind my children of the story. I just mention things here and there as we work through the recipe.
“Remember how Jesus came to be the Bread of Life? What does that mean?”
“We put in lots of spices…what do the spices remind us of?”
You can carry on the conversation like I do, casually talking about it, or you can read the printable card I’ve provided in my Super Fun, Members-Only, Printables Library . (Membership is Free!!) Click Here For Access!
Print the card and include it with your favorite gingerbread baked goods to share with friends!
The BEST Gingerbread Recipes
As my spiritual appreciation for Gingerbread grew…so did my taste-buds’ appreciation!! Now I’m hooked and want to bake (and make) ALL THE GINGERBREAD!!
This was the cookie that converted me to a gingerbread aficionado. From none other, than Ms. Paula Deen herself. If anyone could make a gingerbread cookie delicious, you know it’s Paula Deen.
They’re not too sweet so you can add all the decorations you want. But they’re also good plain with a cup of coffee.
These cookies have a dense, bready bite too them. They aren’t chewy, but they are sure not dry and crunchy either.
Be careful to roll them to just the right thickness, about as thick as a pencil. And don’t overcook them!
I use parchment paper under them while baking and they come out perfect every time.
For icing, I usually mix powdered sugar with a teensy amount of milk until it’s the consistency of school glue or slightly thicker. (Add vanilla or butter flavoring for a little flavor boost.) If you’re building Gingerbread Houses, you’ll need a stiffer icing, like royal or even buttercream.
You’ve been to Jason’s Deli and devoured plate after plate of those yummy little brown muffins, right? A lot of people don’t even realize they are gingerbread because the flavor is so mild. One thing you probably do remember is how moist and flavorful they are!
This recipe is spot on. A perfect substitute for that gingerbread muffin craving and will save you from paying $50 bucks to buy your kids sandwiches they won’t eat since all they really wanted was the organic milk boxes and the gingerbread muffins.
This one popped up in my Facebook feed two days ago. It popped out of my oven yesterday. And it popped into my mouth three times since then.
Pretty much my entire sustenance for the last 24 hours has been Gingerbread Loaf!
It’s the perfect balance between a bread and a cake. Not too sweet, deeply spicy, and full of that molasses-y goodness!
I did make two alterations to the recipe. 1) I didn’t have ground allspice so I subbed nutmeg. Nutmeg and I are good friends, so it was happy to oblige. 2) I needed 2 9×5 loaf pans to bake it all. If I had poured the whole batch into one loaf pan, it might have overflowed.
I did have some trouble with the loaf sticking to the pan, so you might want to line the bottom with waxed paper for easy lift-out.
Here’s a few more gingerbread recipes I can’t wait to try!
Gingerbread Gooey Butter Cookies Look at that crackle on the tops! Crispy, chewy goodness right there!
Award-Winning Gingerbread Cookies Ok, seriously! These look fantastic! I think these are a must-try any time of the year! Wouldn’t they be great in the fall when the first crisp wind blows in?
Maple Glazed Gingerbread Scones I can eat these for breakfast, right? Ok good, glad we’re in agreement about that! Gingerbread Latte Ok, this gal’s got it figured out! The gingerbread latte trumps the better-known PSL (pumpkin spice latte) any day of December. This homemade version looks like the perfect blend!
Gingerbread Waffles Ok, this one is definitely breakfast fare! This would be great on Christmas morning, but I think New Year’s Day would be fun too! The Best Soft Gingerbread Cookies Ok, yes, another cookie recipe, but this one kept calling out to me. Look at that moist, chewy goodness! And the little sugar sprinkles on top! They would add a perfect bit of texture.
Oh man, I can’t decide which to bake next!!
Want to come over and bake all day together? Then we can split up the gingerbread and save a few calories. 🙂
Which one do you want to try first?
I’d love to hear about your family’s Christmas Baking Traditions. Reach out to me and tell me what you do to make sweet-smelling Christmas memories with your family. And if you try one of these recipes, tell me what you think!
SugarPlums and Fresh Snowfall,