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The Twelve Days of Christmas, Bavarian-style (5) 


On the fifth day of Christmas my Bavarian friend gave to me: five Lebkuchen.

In one of the all-time best traditions for a holiday, Lebkuchen can be had in nearly every store in Munich for Christmas. It is loosely translated to English as gingerbread.

The original Lebkuchen were made by Franconian monks. Today, only Nürnberg, the capital of Franconia, is permitted to use the term ‘real Nuremberg Lebkuchen’ as it is a protected designation (like parmesan cheese, or champagne).

Lebkuchen come in many types, but generally they contain ginger, nuts, honey and other spices. The cakes are baked in an oversized wafer similar to the type used for Eucharist. They are then glazed or covered in dark chocolate.

The best place to buy Lebkuchen in Munich is at Lebkuchen Schmidt, on the Kurfürstenplatz. When asked why Lebkuchen normally comes in a package of five, he said that it was leftover from Napoleon who wanted to do away with any ideas of a dozen (12) or a half-dozen (like a sixpence) which was brought over by the British. Whether this is true or not, he wasn’t completely sure. But, if one travels in some of the smaller villages of Bavaria, one might still hear the word ‘merci’ instead of ‘danke’, which was an influence from the French. You be the judge.

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