There are people who make gingerbread houses decorated with icing and candy, especially in the winter. I think it is sometimes associated with non-Jewish holidays, but I don't know why. As far as I can tell, it is inspired by the fable of Hansel and Gretel, which is not a religious or holiday-related story. There seems to be no religious meaning or purpose to a gingerbread house.

Is there any reason to consider gingerbread houses prohibited (as in chukkas hagoyim)? Would the time of year make a difference?

  • Could be assur midin bittul torah.
    – user3318
    Dec 12, 2013 at 16:56
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    @Malper can you buy one from a store made by non-Jews? Dec 12, 2013 at 17:34
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    @ShmuelBrin If you do that, you may have to tovel it before moving in.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 12, 2013 at 20:09
  • While I'm not exactly thrilled to see these marketed the most notable example is davka NOT gingerbread and I presume this was an attempt at giving the customers a chance to participate in a "fun" activity while trying to keep it different enough
    – Yirmeyahu
    Dec 13, 2013 at 16:25
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    If you do frost a gingerbread house with letters, you have to do so on the inside. After all, כל אות שאין זנגביל מוקף לה מארבע רוחותיה פסולה.
    – msh210
    Dec 13, 2013 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


I had a similar discussion with a scholarly conservative friend about dyeing the hardboiled eggs for the Passover seder.

On one hand, it is a mitzvah to beautify another mitzvah, and the dyed eggs look beautiful and make the seder table more beautiful and more appealing and special, especially to kids. And as the point of Pesach is to teach the story to your children, things that you do to make it more appealing and memorable are legitimate (unless they would violate some other law).

On the other hand, the dyed hard-boiled eggs are very strongly associated with Easter, and having dyed eggs might seem to blur the lines between Judaism and gentile practices.

My scholarly friend did say that the eggs themselves are not a mitzvah (only a tradition), so the beautification principle did not apply in his view.

Ultimately I posed the question to my 12-year old. She voted in favor of "pretty eggs", so we went that way. We also choose to not decorate them with garish bright colors — we bought eggs that were naturally green and blue and brown and simply enhanced their colors, plus used a little food-safe metallic gold spray, so it wouldn't seem like the most obvious or common Easter eggs.

Note that this is not validated halachikhally, it's just, perhaps, a baraita from our household. :)

Anyway, I think that culturally gingerbread houses are pretty strongly associated with Christmas, although they're not explicitly religious (like a Christmas tree). But if you made a gingerbread house at another time of the year it would not risk blurring the lines — you're clearly just making an edible model house / candy structure. You could also make a Matzah house at Pesach.

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    -1. The post above is a question of halacha. This doesn't address it.
    – msh210
    Dec 15, 2013 at 15:26
  • I see where you're coming from, but respectfully disagree. There is [almost certainly] no direct halacha dealing with gingerbread houses per se. So we're left to derive something by comparing different baraita and existing principles. This has to do with the adoption of another culture's symbols (which Jews have always done) in a way that doesn't harm Jewish distinctiveness or break laws. The main issue for interpretation is whether, in the current cultural milleau, gingerbread houses are considered distinctively Christian or more secular.
    – בלדנר
    Dec 15, 2013 at 23:12
  • It's a minhag to give colored eggs for another Jewish holiday -- maybe Lag b'Omer?
    – SAH
    Oct 10, 2016 at 13:04

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