Huron High School German class has been making Gingerbread Houses in class since Heidi Holforty started teaching there in 1997, and it was a tradition even before that with previous teachers.
Back then, they built the delicious houses in the evening, and all levels of German classes (1 through 4) were allowed to come if they wanted. Eventually it became more and more difficult to find an evening during the Christmas season that most kids could attend, so Holforty switched it to an in-school activity for German 3 and 4 only. The students are given a recipe and pattern and have to prepare it and bring it to school on the day they are to assemble them.
German club provides the frosting and candy. It is also a contest, where faculty vote for the Most Beautiful, Most Creative, and Judges Choice. The rules are that everything has to be edible and it has to fit on a 12-by-12-inch board. With that limit, some have tried to build higher, making castles or skyscrapers.
Unfortunately, most of them collapse before they are judged!
The Lebkuchenhaus (gingerbread house) is said to have come about in Germany in the early 1800s, apparently inspired by Hänsel und Gretel, the famous fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm (die Brüder Grimm).
The students also learn about other German Christmas traditions like Sankt Nikolaustag and Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets).
“I hope the students develop an appreciation, understanding, and respect for the various beliefs and traditions that others have,” Holforty said.
“Many of these activities are just a lot of fun for the kids too,” she added. “Those few weeks before Christmas are pretty hectic and these activities give them a chance to relax and just enjoy each others company!”