Making gingerbread in Slovenia

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Making gingerbread
Element inscribed on the National ICH Registry of Slovenia
Domain: Traditional craftmanship

 

In 2021, when Slovenia bears the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2021, the Slovene Ethnographic Museum, as the Coordinator for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, will publish a publication about culinary elements in the Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovenia. Among the presented elements of intangible cultural heritage will also be Making gingerbread, which is a handicraft activity related to the production and sale of honey bread in different forms, most often made using tin models for cutting or made freehand.

The basis for making gingerbread is honey dough, usually made of wheat or rye flour and honey, to which deer salt, cinnamon and cloves are added, well kneaded and left to rest for some time before shaping. The cut-out figures are usually in the shape of a heart, a horse, a cradle or a doll. After baking they are painted on the top, most often with red paint, decorated with coloured sugar foam or different printed thumbnails or captions, and mirrors can also be added.

Today, gingerbread is mainly used as tourist souvenirs, decorations on Christmas trees, and occasionally even as protocol gifts. Gingerbread makers sell their products in home workshops, at fairs and various events, as well as in souvenir shops, and they also make gingerbread to order for weddings, anniversaries and other occasions.

In Slovenia, gingerbread making is preserved by workshops with a long tradition in several places (Slovenj Gradec, Maribor, Murska Sobota, Ratkovci, Ptuj, Radovljica) and in some newly created ones. In workshops with a longer tradition, knowledge is most often transferred and preserved within families. Interested adults and children also learn the basics of making gingerbread at various workshops.