Christmas / Food / Travel / Winter Vacation

Whimsical Dreams of Christmas Gingerbread Magic

Whenever snow falls near Christmas, any serious thoughts vapourize into child-like dreams of fun, sugar plums, sleigh bells and lovely baked pastries with hot chocolate.

Gingerbread sleigh ride. Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Gingerbread sleigh ride. Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

I like soft Christmas cookies with different spices, less sugar but more delicate in taste . Gingerbread cookies are cute, but do not stoke my sweet tooth. To me, gingerbread houses and their baked figurines are more works of culinary folk art. A place for an aspiring and creative pastry chef to frolic with bits of dough, coloured candies and food colouring.

Gingerbread house with toy train. Hyatt Hotel, Calgary AB 2012.

Gingerbread house with toy train. Hyatt Hotel, Calgary AB 2012.

Over the years, in North America, we’ve seen stock gingerbread houses lined up in stores and bakeries. But what’s worth seeing are, gingerbread and pastry tableaux where a whole Christmas winter scene has been cunningly fashioned for hours of viewing pleasure.

Pastry Chef Fun
These are one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Imagine, the fun for a team of pastry chefs (and any other trusty kitchen staff) at the Lake Louise Chateau Hotel in the Rocky Mountains. For several months, the hotel featured whole tabletop scene over 15 ft. long decorated with Christmas, dough shaped winter vignettes.

Choir bursting in happy song outside church. Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Choir bursting in happy song outside church. Toy train whips by frolicking skiers. Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

There was a singing choir outside a gingerbread church; skiing, skating and tobagganing frolickers across the table, icehole fishers and reckless snowboarders. There was even a blissed-out, bikini clad woman soaking in a hot tub outdoors.

Fun times: meeting with friends, a bikini-clad  hot tub user and a bystander holding a snowboard. Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Fun times: meeting with friends, a bikini-clad hot springs user and a bystander holding a snowboard. Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Sunlit soaring snowy kingdom among mountains. Near Lake Louise, Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Sunlit soaring snowy kingdom among mountains. Near Lake Louise, Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Like the Hyatt Hotel in Calgary, Lake Louise Chateatu’s Christmas confectionery scene featured a self-running toy train sliding through the sugary landscape. Just to provide some movement for delighted crowds to alight their eyes on different figures and dough shapes, as the train wound slowly through the static pastry scene.

Wild bunny in my neighbourhood huddles under evergreen tree on evening of winter blizzard. Temperature had dropped to -31 degrees C. Dec. 2, 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Wild bunny in my neighbourhood huddles under evergreen tree on evening of winter blizzard. Temperature had dropped to -31 degrees C (-23 F). Dec. 2, 2013. Calgary AB. Photo by J. Chong. Since this evening photo, I’ve seen this Christmas bunny another 2 different times scampering across streets in our area downtown during the evening this week.

Historic Deane House draped with freshly fallen snow. Calgary, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Historic Deane House draped with freshly fallen snow. Calgary, AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Outdoor Eye Candy: Lush Fresh Snow
Then step away from this delightful gingerbread fascination to the sparkling wintery outdoors, where a house or mountains are draped in lush soft piles of fresh white snow.

Here’s my Christmas Haiku for your holiday pleasure. Merry Christmas! May happy memories always twinkle brightly for you:

Icicles glitter,
Brittle fringe of cascading
Diamonds melt over snow.

Dreams of fresh lush snow made live while snowshoeing. Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

Dreams of fresh lush snow made live while snowshoeing. Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies. Alberta 2013. Photo by J. Chong

31 thoughts on “Whimsical Dreams of Christmas Gingerbread Magic

    • I’m sure HK has some token gingerbread houses in a window display or European style bakery? Or maybe there are more unusual gingerbread interpretations there? I can’t believe there wouldn’t be.. :) Merry Christmas from where I am today @-40 degrees C. It’s frostbite danger zone.

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    • Fresh lush snow for Christmas, is the best. The mountains and snow piles are located over 170 km. north of us which are the famed Rocky Mountains, turquoise lakes, bighorn sheep,elk, etc. But we did get a snowstorm that shut down half of the city at the beginning of this week. Merry Christmas in the UK there!

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  1. Jean, you’ve captured the essence of holiday celebration as well as the natural beauty of the season. Love the bunny photo, but the house draped in snow is my favorite. Makes me want to get out my gingerbread recipes!

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    • Well, all we needed for the blog post, was some jaunty Christmas music composed by you, to match the lively gingerbread scenery or something falling snow-meditative tune. And I’ll bet you have some music scores like that in the warming oven. :) Merry Christmas, composer.

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    • Sounds like a fantastic idea to pull in your architect spouse..but maybe the cookie base might have to be a wee different unless the same ingredients are plentiful there? I don’t even really know Ecudorean architecture.

      Yesterday I realized that our snow, bunny and gingerbread around Christmas, is something that we take for granted but seen as quite novel, maybe even envied for Christmas celebrations in other parts of the world.

      Our area just pulled out very cold winter temperatures. Some parts of Alberta were apparently the coldest on earth for the day which was last night. :) Imagine surpassing the Arctic or Siberia. My best wishes for a lovely, memorable holiday there, Kathryn

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    • One day you will capture one on film. I’m certain you have other wild animal photos from your bike rides. Or no, it’s northern lights which I’ve always wanted to see! Plus a moose.

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  2. Every year your trips to Lake Louise and images you take become triggers for memories of many past winters for me in the same local. My grandmother used to get us kids busy making gingerbread houses at Christmas and I loved helping. I used to think the ones we made were elegant until I saw a few done by baking pros. The one you have caught on your camera is outstanding when it comes to detail. The bikini-clad hot springs user and a bystander holding a snowboard cracked me right up.

    I hope you and your partner will have a wonderful Christmas in winter wonderland, Jean.
    Merry Christmas to you.

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    • I’ve never helped make a gingerbread house. Baking desserts is not at all part of traditional Asian cuisine for special occasions. (And moon cakes for the Moon Fall festival tend to made by bakeries or manufacturers.) As an adult, I’ve baked my share of dessert squares and the occasional cake here and there for Christmas.

      Always as a child, we viewed the special wonderful as the best in the world. Nothing wrong with that and then, later we recreate that feeling of awe and wonder in other things we do for special times. The Lake Louise gingerbread scenery tableau was exceptional and delighted everyone who was there.

      Thanks for your warm wishes. I wish you and your hubby a memorable Christmas, surrounded by love and sharing.

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  3. Merry Christmas to you and yours Jean!
    Hard to remember it’s Christmas soon – the northern Chinese town we just came back from is hardly Christmasy. I miss the fresh fallen snow in Chicago, which now has become a distant memory in Shanghai. We haven’t seen much snow for the past four years or so here.

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    • It must the changed environment in Shanghai, that is leading to no snow. What town did your family visit north there? Nevertheless my warmest wishes from Canada for you and your family. What do you plan to eat to celebrate the occasion?

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      • My family live in Hebei province, not far from Beijing. I take the kids to visit them twice a year, something impossible if we lived in north America.
        Well, as for the celebratory dinner, I still have time to figure out. Eating out is always an option, very popular here.

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  4. What a jolly post, Jean– it had me reaching for my Santa hat and a cup of eggnog!!

    Loved all your photos. Great idea to combine the coziness of a gingerbread village with the special beauty of a winter wonderland– talk about the best of both worlds!!

    Every Christmas I find myself wondering if anybody actually eats gingerbread– sometimes I get the impression it’s only used for “building materials”!! Especially liked your photo of the train whizzing past the carolers in a blur– and that hot tub lady was a great humorous touch!

    Gorgeous outdoor photos– real Christmas card stuff! The bunny looks rather stoic. Of course, at -23F I look pretty stoic, too… : )

    Your lovely haiku made me, uh, shiver with delight– Merry Christmas, Jean!!

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    • I agree Mark, that maybe the structural pieces of the scenery — gingerbread buildings may not that delicate and tasty. It would require some cookie dough buttressing or shock a piece of cardboard underneath. The poor bunny was frigid because it didn’t jump away from me when I approached it close for that photo. It was only a 15-min. walk for me on that very cold evening.

      A visit from the corner cartoonist like you and your witty comments, are always a treat Mark. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas!

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  5. I loved seeing these pictures Jean!!! I went to the city last week in Melbourne and saw the gingerbread village there! I loved it, what a beautiful work of art I thought!
    Merry Christmas Jean! Wishing you a beautiful time with your loved ones!

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    • I’m glad to give some Canadian snow greetings for you, Rita. I probably sound like hopeless Canuck, a child: to me, Christmas is best experienced with falling snow, lights in the evening, etc. Enjoy your time with visiting parents in Aussieland. Merry Christmas!

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