Why the flurry of gingerbread items at Christmastime? I wondered – so I went to Wikipedia and here is part of what I found.
Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar) (Grégoire de Nicopolis). He left Nicopolis Pompeii, to live in Bondaroy(France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed there for seven years, and taught gingerbread baking to French Christians. He died in 999.
During the 13th century, gingerbread was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. In 15th century Germany, a gingerbread guild controlled production. Early references from the Vadstena Abbey show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion in 1444. It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them aswindow decorations.
The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 17th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and town square farmers’ markets. In Medieval England gingerbread was thought to have medicinal properties. One hundred years later, the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK became known for its gingerbread, as is proudly displayed on their town’s welcome sign. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier, as ginger had been stocked in high street businesses since the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 18th century.