when grandie v and i
have finished building our indoor winter fairy village
with jewels and feathers and sparkles, a flower vine swing, love tape, and puff ball beds
it is very important to write about it and invite them to move in tonight.
“when I sound the fairy call, gather here in silent meeting,
chin to knee on the orchard wall, cooled with dew and cherries eating.
merry, merry, take a cherry, mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
mine are sweeter for the eater, when the dews fall, and you’ll be fairies all.”
The village becomes larger and more elaborate each year.
The day after Christmas is typically a time for relaxation and reflection after a harried holiday season. But not for Jon Lovitch—December 26 is the day he gets started on next year’s Christmas miracle. Driven by visions of Yuletide glory, he hits up stores’ post-holiday sales and stocks up on the sugar, candy and other sweets he’ll use to build his next GingerBread Lane.
The 39-year-old chef has been building gingerbread houses since he was a teenager. But Lovitch is no run-of-the-mill gingerbread aficionado. GingerBread Lane, which is on display through January 10 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York, recently broke the Guinness World Record for world’s largest gingerbread village. For the last three years, he’s won the title annually, beating out villages in Norway and other countries.
Made using 682 pounds of homemade gingerbread dough, 775 pounds of candy sourced from more than 11 countries and 3,900 pounds of icing, GingerBread Lane weighs in at around three tons and takes up 500 square feet of space. Between buying supplies, making dough and icing from scratch and decorating each of the 1,102 buildings right down to their gumdrop-speckled rooftops, the completely edible village took about 1,500 hours to construct over the course of an entire year.
“I’m a chef by trade and a food purist, so I don’t believe in using ingredients that are inedible,” Lovitch tells Smithsonian.com. “Sure, it would be much easier to build if I used Styrofoam and glue, but Guinness mandates it’s built in such a way, and that’s the same way I’ve always done it.”
When Lovitch isn’t hunched over his oven in his cramped Bronx apartment, he serves as executive chef at the historic Algonquin Hotel in Times Square in New York City. Because of space restraints in his home kitchen, he can only work in batches on nights and weekends. He makes about three pounds of icing at a time and stores his creations in a spare bedroom. As a result, his entire home smells like a Christmas bakery year-round.“By the end of summer I can’t even smell it anymore,” he says, “but whenever I have friends over, they always comment on it.”
Lovitch’s schedule increases in intensity once July rolls around. He does the bulk of the baking during the summer. It isn’t until fall that he begins work on each structure’s details, from the intricate candy-coated rooftop of the S.C. Kringle & Co. Department Shoppe to the lifelike stonework on the exterior of a row of gingerbread brownstones. Lovitch even uses specially ordered coffee-flavored gum from Japan to simulate brown bricks.
“I try to make my village as lifelike and detailed as possible—it’s a cross between something in a Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and a Tim Burton movie,” says Lovitch. Kids aren’t the only people drawn to the delicious intricacy of his gingerbread creations, he says: “Seniors are also really into it.”
GingerBread Lane’s appeal is widespread, but it can’t last forever. After several weeks delighting kids of all ages, Lovitch must dismantle GingerBread Lane on January 10. Rather than throw his creations in the trash, he invites visitors to come to the New York Hall of Science and take home buildings for free on a first-come, first-served basis. “Taking it apart can be gut-wrenching,” he says. “You realize as you give away each piece that you’ll never see it again. Just like Christmas, it’s an ephemeral thing. A brief, fleeting moment in time.”
“and I had but one penny in the world. thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.”
– william shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost
credits: smithsonianmag.com, jennifer nalewki
and in a tiny shop,
filled with delicate treats
ice cream, cookies, cakes, and sweets
who better to sell these lovely delights
than a shining unicorn-
so brave and full of light?
“there are wild elephants in the country,
and numerous unicorns which are nearly as big,..”
my poem is dedicated
to my very young grandie, v,
who is an amazing artist
with a boundless imagination.
may you always have
magical unicorns in your life.
They’ve both got big anniversaries this year:
2016 marks 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth, and 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. That means 2016 is a pretty great year for celebrating the lives and works of these two world-famous writers.
They both made up some crackling words:
Shakespeare coined countless new words and phrases, many of which have found their way into common usage, including ‘wild goose chase’, ‘laughing stock’, and ‘heart of gold’. Roald Dahl invented quite a few words of his own, especially while writing The BFG – who can forget snozzcumber, gigglehouse and exunkly?
Both authors have their very own dictionaries, both published by Oxford University Press. The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary and The Gobblefunk Dictionary (coming in June).
Can you tell which of the following 5 words are Roald Dahl words, and which 5 are Shakespeare words?
Babblement, Smilets, Bubukles, Crumpscoddle, Pulsidge,
Vizaments, Squizzled, Twangling, Bootboggler, Sossel.
(Answers at the bottom of the page!)
They both have links to the Royal Shakespeare Company:
Set up in 1875 the Royal Shakespeare Company was established to inspire a lifelong love of William Shakespeare and to produce new plays and productions. In 2010 the RSC’s production of Matilda the Musical based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda, premiered at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before moving to the West End in 2011. This record-breaking, award-winning musical is still going strong, made its way to Broadway in 2013 and toured Australia in 2015.
They are both loved worldwide:
Shakespeare is well and truly international. According to The British Council his works have been translated into over 100 languages (including Klingon), and performed worldwide – Romeo and Juliet has been performed in 24 countries in the last 10 years alone!
Roald Dahl books have been translated into 58 languages including Norwegian, Welsh and Japanese, but not Klingon… yet. During his lifetime Roald Dahl stuck a pin in a world map every time he received fan mail from a new place. Far flung destinations included Sao Paulo, Beijing, Addis Ababa and Windhoek.
Roald’s Fan Map
They are both top ten borrowed authors:
Both Roald Dahl and Shakespeare are very popular with library goers it would seem. The Public Lending Right lists Roald Dahl as the number 1 most borrowed classic author in 2015, with Shakespeare taking tenth place. Not bad!
They’re big on the big screen:
Many of Shakespeare’s plays have been made into movies. According to the BFI the first Shakespeare film was made in 1899. Since then there have been countless film versions and adaptations including William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), West Side Story (1961), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
There have been some great film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s books too, Including Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The BFG is coming to cinemas this July.
You can visit their home towns:
Two places you must definitely visit are The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire and Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Roald Dahl lived in the village of Great Missenden for 36 years and wrote all of his children’s books in his Writing Hut in the bottom of his garden. The Museum is housed in an old coaching inn on the High Street, you can’t miss it – look for the painted BFG on the front.
William Shakespeare lived in Henley Street in Stratford from the time of his birth until he was old enough to marry. Visitors can tread in his footsteps in the house he lived in, for millions of enthusiasts worldwide this house is a shrine.
Some of their stories are rooted in folklore:
Witches, magic, sprites and mysterious creatures appear in work by Roald Dahl and Shakespeare, and almost certainly rooted in folklore. Roald Dahl’s Norwegian heritage may have influenced his stories about jumbly giants and witches. His first story for children The Gremlins was inspired by RAF folklore which held that little creatures were responsible for the various mechanical failures on aeroplanes.
Shakespeare plays feature similar characters: Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the sorcere Prospero, and the witches in Macbeth. Even Hamlet is borrowed from an old Scandinavian tale.
Roald Dahl = Babblement, Crumpscoddle, Squizzled, Bootboggler, Sossel.
William Shakespeare = Smilets, Bubukles, Pulsidge, Vizaments, Twangling.
credits: roald dahl museum