Deadline Nov. 14

If “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage,” so do Christmas and gingerbread. Why? 

For the whole story, join the West Volusia Historical Society in a Gingerbread Contest, part of the new “Christmas in Bloom” event Saturday, Nov. 28, outdoors at Select Growers in DeLeon Springs. The deadline to register for the contest is Saturday, Nov. 14. Details are on the WVHS website at www.delandhouse.com. 

The story of gingerbread begins with ginger, which was cultivated in ancient China for medicinal qualities. Ginger roots were imported to Europe by Roman traders. 

By the 600s A.D., ginger, used for digestive-tract ailments, was available in apothecaries. A paste of ginger, honey and grated root vegetables was formed into loaves and sold by the slice. 

In medieval times, molds were carved into pictures and designs on a flat piece of wood, filled with the paste and baked. (Carved replicas will be on sale during “Christmas in Bloom.”) 

In 1487, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III gave children 4,000 gingerbread cakes bearing his image. Gingerbread Fairs featured gingerbread villages. 

By the early 1600s, German and French bakers were mixing in flour and eggs. Then a German baker discovered that using tin molds increased production and profits. 

Why gingerbread at Christmas? In the fourth century, Christians trying to convert pagans noted there were pagan religious ceremonies featuring gingerbread in December. 

Since the Christian church had set no date for Christ’s birth, Dec. 25 was chosen so pagan and Christian celebrations could occur together. And this is how gingerbread became part of Christmas. 

German immigrants to this country brought many Christmas traditions, from trees to gingerbread houses and cookies. 

The “Christmas in Bloom” Gingerbread Contest has categories for children age 15 and younger. Those age 16 and older can make models of historic buildings. Molded gingerbread cookies are also a category. 

Prizes will be awarded by professional judges. Entries will be displayed Nov. 28 during “Christmas in Bloom,” which also features a Bake Shop, Gift Shop and artisan demonstrations. 

Select Growers is at 4391 State Road 11 in DeLeon Springs. There is no charge to attend.