Any time of year is a great time to visit Poland, but there is something wonderful about visiting during the holiday season. From November all the way through the beginning of January, small villages and big cities alike light up with the traditions of the Polish people.

One of the sweetest of these Christmas traditions is Polish gingerbread. Called piernik, this gingerbread is a tangible representation of all that is special about spending Christmas in Poland. Gingerbread is a spiced cookie served around the world during the holidays, but in Poland there is a special variety unique to the region. One of the most popular varieties of piernik, or gingerbread, is made in the city of Torun. Called Torun gingerbread, these cookies have been produced in the same way since the Middle Ages. Both wheat fields and honey surrounded the city of Torun, but the spices were brought through trade routes from India. In the 16th century, the German city of Nuremberg and the Polish city of Torun made an agreement that allowed them to share secret recipes, which is when the recipe for the piernik was finalized.

Today, piernik comes in many shapes, but the most popular are circular cookies or heart-shaped cookies. They may be glazed in a sugar coating or covered in dark chocolate. Travelers in Poland will want to look for piernik manufactured by either Kopernik S.A or the Torun Bakery, both of which are widely known as the best bakers of this sweet Christmas dessert.

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