Holiday Tradition of Building Gingerbread Houses
Stimulates Creative Free Play!
It may seem as if the holiday season is far away in the distance, but now that Halloween has come and gone, preparations are beginning for holiday celebrations in western Massachusetts! One of the most important parts of any community celebration of a holiday (winter or otherwise) is the food. An important part of every culture, the food associated with a specific event plays an important role in its celebration and says a lot about those who celebrate. The preparation of specific traditional dishes often brings families together, and creates a tradition that can be a part of each holiday for years to come.
One of the most iconic food-related ways to celebrate early winter’s holidays is by making a gingerbread house. Constructed out of delicious (and also sturdy and long-lasting) spicy gingerbread, festive gingerbread houses represent not only the role of food in holiday celebrations, but also the importance of creativity and intergenerational collaboration. Building a gingerbread house is a fantastic way to include creative folks of all ages in creating a delicious, well-engineered work of art, and skills in architectural design, engineering, communication, and collaboration will all come into play during such an activity. And speaking of play – play you shall! Even if the family gingerbread masterpiece isn’t an architectural wonder, the process of decorating it is a fantastic opportunity to participate in creative free play together!
In addition to all of the opportunities for learning and potential to exercise creativity that gingerbread house creation offers, come upcoming community events also offer participants the opportunity to collaborate and to support important community organizations. While some events simply provide space, materials, and an encouraging atmosphere, others bring teams together to participate in gingerbread building so as to support an important local cause. So wherever your interest in gingerbread building may come from, participating in an upcoming community event is sure to provide fun, learning, and a delicious outlet for creativity!
Events for 2014:
Friday, November 21st, 2014 – The 21st marks the deadline for entries into Historic Deerfield’s second Heritage Baking Contest. The contest, in which Historic Deerfield partners with King Arthur Flour, calls for community members to submit a holiday baking recipe that has a special place within their family. Not only will entries be judged based on their baking potential, but the family story accompanying each recipe is important, too. Official judging will take place on Saturday, December 6th. 413-774-5581. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. (FREE)
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 – Register by Dec 3rd to be part of Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity’s annual Gingerbread Build competition! The event invites teams of all ages (with up to four participants) to design and create unique gingerbread houses in order to raise money for the organization’s local projects. Participants must pay a registration fee, and are asked to gather donations for PVHH before the event, and must bring their own decorations. Competition is stiff, but awards include many different categories. The event will take place on Saturday, December 13th from 1:30-5pm at Eastworks in Easthampton. 413-586-5430. 140 Pine Street #9. Florence, MA. ($$$)
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 – Visit Historic Deerfield for Heritage Holiday Baking Day! From 10am-4:30pm, families can learn all about holiday baking in New England history. In the Hall Tavern, visitors can learn about open hearth cooking and see demonstrations of holiday recipes from old Deerfield. Additionally, visitors can make handmade holiday gifts and decorate their own gingerbread cookies, and entries in the Heritage Baking Contest will be judged! 413-774-5381. 84B Old Main Street. Deerfield, MA. ($)
Saturday, December 13th, 2014 – The Hatfield Public Library hosts an hour of sugary decorating fun this morning! Bring creative ideas, as well as supply donations (if possible). Pre-made houses will be available for young children, but older participants are encouraged to use the maximum amount of creativity when building their structures (or vehicles, ships, sculptures, etc.). Registration is required, as space is limited. 413-247-9097. 39 Main Street. Hatfield, MA. (FREE)
Sunday, December 14th, 2014 – Take part in a festive tradition by entering the Lenox Library’s 10th annual Gingerbread House Competition! Participants must create their own masterpieces before the event at home and bring them to the library in order to enter them, and submissions can be created by gingerbread builders of all ages (teams are okay too!). Call the library to register for the event. 413-637-2630. 18 Main Street. Lenox, MA. (FREE)
[Photo credit: (cc) Laura]