Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, resembling soft gingerbread. They were invented by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany in the 13th century. Traditionally, the cookies are usually quite large and may be four and a half inches in diameter if round, and larger if rectangular. It ranges in taste from spicy to sweet and come in a variety of shapes with round being the most common. The ingredients usually include honey, spices such as aniseed, coriander, cloves, ginger, cardamom, and allspice, nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, or candied fruit. The forerunner of today's Lebkuchen was called the "honey cake" and its history can be traced back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. They believed that honey, the only sweetener widely available to them, was a gift of the deities and had magical and healing powers. Honey cakes were also worn as a talisman in battle or as protection against evil spirits.
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