Ginger is a spice from Indo- Malaysia. The ginger root was believed to sooth an upset stomach or to prevent a cold. In 2000 B.C. wealthy Greek families sailed to the Isle of Rhodes to get spiced honey cakes. In the eleventh century, pilgrims and soldiers introduced ginger to the Europeans. The English created ginger candy. Two hundred years later, bread crumbs were added to the mixture and gingerbread almost as we know it was born.
In the middle ages, medieval ladies gave gingerbread cakes to their favorite knights. Different shapes were used for different meanings. The heart was used to ward off evil. Ginger was very plentiful in Germany because it became the center for spice trade. Craft people created special baking molds of animals, fish, and bible scenes sometimes weighing over one hundred pounds. In the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I presented guests with a gingerbread made to look like them.
For More Info on the history of gingerbread and gingerbread houses visit: http://www.germantownacademy.org/academics/LS/2/ginger/Index.html