Brown-eyed Susans, sugar cookie rolls, and butter cookies with cherries in the middle were favorites I made with my mother. We rolled out dough and cut out different shapes, sprinkling them with sugar. My grandmother's specialties were snickerdoodles, haystacks, and lace cookies.
I loved those cookie baking days with Mom and Grandma. I can still remember the wonderful smells and the delightful conversation. The memories are so precious to me.
Of course, I have carried on the traditions of baking cookies with my own children.
We have our own favorites: snowballs, gingerbread men, toffee bars, pecan tassies, and molasses cookies. Of course, we still make my mom and grandmom's cookies too.
Like in days of old, we roll out the dough and cut out all kinds of shapes. And as I pull out Mom's old cookie cutters, there is always a stray tear or two.
We love to make cookies and package them to give as gifts, but our first batch of Christmas cookies is always made the day we decorate the Christmas tree.
Here are some things I've learned to make cookie baking fun and festive:
Now, where did the tradition of baking cookies at Christmas come from?
When Did the Christmas Cookie Tradition Start?
The first cookies, or little cakes, are thought to date back to the Persians who loved their sweets.
The tradition of baking cookies at Christmas goes all the way back to the Middle Ages.
Pilgrimages and Crusades brought sugar, dates, and spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg back to Europe.
Since these ingredients were expensive, they were used on special occasions and holidays like the Feast of Christmas. Sweet desserts, including cookies, were served to guests as special treats.
Later, Germans decorated Christmas trees with cookies and are believed to be the inventors of cookie cutters.
Moravians made decorations out of cookies to use as centerpieces.
The Dutch brought Christmas cookies with them to America when they settled in New Amsterdam, later New York. Germans soon followed with their gingerbread, lebkuchen, and pfeffernusse cookies.
Questions & Answers about Christmas Cookies
Do you want to make cookies to hang on your Christmas tree?
Just poke a hole in sugar or gingerbread cut-cookies. After the bake and cool, you can thread a thin ribbon through the hole to hang on your tree.
Can I freeze Christmas cookies?
Yes. You can freeze bar cookies in slabs or the whole pan. Thaw and cut when needed.
Cut-out cookies and sugar cookies can be frozen. Just be sure to put waxed paper (or parchment paper) between each layer so they don't stick together.
Are you looking for creative ways to serve your cookies?
Arrange on kind of flat cookie like a wreath around the edges of a platter. Fill the inside with rounder cookies.
Stack cookies in shapes like a tree or star.
Place small glasses of milk on a large platter. Put a single cookie on top of each glass.
Are you looking for ways to package your cookies to give as gifts?
Stack cookies in a pile inside a mason jar. Decorate the lid and tie a ribbon around the jar.
Place cookies inside egg cartons.
Wrap each cookie individually in colored cellophane wrap. Place in a basket.
Line a Christmas cookie tin with festive paper and place cookies inside.
Place in decorate glass jars.
Wrap a Pringles can with Christmas wrap and carefully place cookies inside.
Please share your creative ideas for Christmas cookie baking and if you are feeling especially generous, your favorite Christmas cookie recipe.
Love, love, love to each of you and Merry Christmas!