There's more to Christmas cookies than you might think.


Christmas cookies: You know you love them. You know they go great with a cold glass of milk (or beer). You know you’re probably going to eat way too many of them this holiday season. But there’s also a lot you might not know about Christmas cookies. Here, a few fun facts to read while chowing down.

1. Queen Elizabeth I invented gingerbread men. Thank Queen Elizabeth I for adorable little gingerbread people. While she didn’t actually bake the cookies herself (she was a queen, after all), she did request that her royal bakers create gingerbread cookies shaped like visiting dignitaries in order to honor them.

2. We leave cookies for Santa because of the Great Depression. It wasn’t standard practice to leave cookies and milk out for Santa Claus until the 1930s. Historians posit that it was something parents encouraged children to do in order to teach them how to share and be charitable during a time of economic depression. The tradition stuck and Santa’s pants have never fit the same.

3. Cookies were originally made to test oven temperature. According to culinary historians, cookies as we know them today were first made not to eat but to test the temperature of an oven. Cooks would take a small dollop of cake batter and bake it as a means of gauging whether the oven was ready or not.

4. Gingerbread men were illegal in some places during the Reformation. Martin Luther was not a fan of Christmas. In response to his anti-saint stance (Luther condemned the practice of praying to saints and instead taught his followers to pray directly to God), the city of Delft in the Netherlands forbade the sale of gingerbread men. Meanwhile, the magistrates of Amsterdam banned all molded cookies, as did the city of Arnhem.

5. Santa Claus eats over 300 million cookies on Christmas Eve. Every Christmas Eve, Santa visits over 500 million homes where he encounters about billion cookies. If you hypothesize that he takes about two bites of each cookie he is given, it means he eats a total of 336,150,386 cookies.