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Does any food conjure up warm and cosy holiday feelings quite like gingerbread?

It is one of those foods that without thinking, we are quite sensual about. We delight in the look of it, how has it been decorated, what shape is it? Sometimes it is humorous. And, of course, there is the smell of gingerbread. Recipe dependent, the ginger, the cinnamon, the allspice, the cloves create a sensation that makes us feel warm inside, and, for many of us brings back memories of holidays past. The scent makes me remember when I would bite into a gingerbread cookie at Christmas, my mom would pretend to be the ginger person and squeal with each missing body part. Gruesome, but it cracked me up every time.

This is the second video in our series The Story of Winter, where we learn about the foods we eat in the winter season, their cultural impact and their place in our mindfulness practice.

So, why DO we eat gingerbread this time of year? Gingerbread has a long and ancient history, from China to Ancient Greece to Medieval European Courts, it became en vogue with Queen Elizabeth 1. She presided over an era of exploration and colonisation, and trade routes to the east from where the intoxicating spices and sugar came.

When you think about, gingerbread in a way, is a preserve. One mixes together butter, flour, eggs, spices and sugar to make a biscuit (depending on how long it is baked) that can last forever. So, gingerbread was a way to hold the world in your hands, breathing in the smell would conjure up memories not just of a holiday season, but of distant and exotic parts of the world that you might never see, but you held in your hand.

Of course, there is no difference today. We are just less mindful of it. This holiday season, when you lean into your gingerbread biscuits, give some thought to the people and the places from all over the world that brought your gingerbread man to life and make new memories, ones that are rather regal!