Every Christmas, Bergen – Norway’s second city – hosts what is said to be the world’s largest miniature gingerbread town. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1991 and grows in scope and colour each year. Known as Pepperkakebyen, the exhibition recreates buildings, trains, carousels, ferris wheels and scenes from daily life in Bergen in gingerbread form. Up to 2000 creations are on display and this year offerings were received from schools and kindergartens, as is tradition, as well as donations from the UK, Latvia and Germany.
Organisers say it’s possibly their biggest gingerbread village yet, although they’re facing competition from other Norwegian cities. The gingerbread town in Stavanger, for example, receives about 200 gingerbread buildings annually but this year they’re rallying the entire community together, including schools, sports clubs, families and businesses, to donate as much as possible in a bid to topple Bergen’s record, according to local newspaper Stavanger Aftenbladet.
Gingerbread has long been associated with Christmas throughout Scandinavia. In Norway, the most popular form of gingerbread confection is pepperkaker, brittle ginger cookies that are baked in homes across the country at this time of year. They’re mostly eaten but also used as festive decorations, with thicker versions used to build window displays and gingerbread houses.
Located at former swimming baths Sentralbadet, Bergen’s Pepperkakebyen runs until 31 December and profits from all sales go towards children’s’ charities including Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages and Children at Risk Foundation.
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