Cookies play a special role in Christmas in many American and European households. They often are shaped in holiday symbols, colored in holiday colors (red, green, and white for Christmas), and decorated with icing and “sprinkles” or candy shapes. The basic American Christmas cookie is made of a wheat flour and white sugar with vanilla flavoring dough that is chilled then rolled flat to be cut into shapes. Gingerbread or ginger-flavored cookies are also associated with this time of year, and many cultures have a distinctive Christmas cookie—pizelles in Italy, “teacakes” in eastern European countries. A tradition in some areas is a “cookie exchange,” in which each participant makes an abundance of cookies and then trades them with other participants in order to get a variety of types.
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