Candy Cane Story
For the past six seasons and if the weather is reasonable, I like to approach
each car visiting our display and chit chat with our ‘viewers’ of our display
often answering their questions. I always offer a candy cane to everybody in
each car as it is our family’s gift for viewing our display. I have never
accepted any money for the candy canes nor will I in the future.
Our first year we handed out approximately 500 candy canes and it has doubled
every year. Last year we figured out that we handed out 5000 candy canes and we
will probably surpass that this upcoming season. In the weekends just before
Christmas ‘Santa’ hands out these candy canes to all the good girls and boys.
Besides the traditional peppermint we now have several unique flavors that we
will be handing out this Christmas season. Rather than offering us money for the
candy canes, please drop off an item of non perishable food for the food drive
or a non wrapped toy for the toys for toys program and leave them on the porch.
Hopefully my legacy will be that 20 years from now many will remember that when
I was a kid, I remember receiving a candy cane while watching this really cool
One of the most often seen symbols of Christmas is the
candy cane. Not only are candy canes used as a sweet Christmas time treat but
they are also used for decoration. How did this seasonal candy get its familiar
shape, and when did it become part of Christmas tradition?
When the practice of using Christmas trees to celebrate Christmas became popular
in Europe the people there began making decorations for their trees. Many of the
decorations were food items including cookies and candy. The predecessor of our
modern candy cane appeared at about this time in the seventeenth century. These
were straight, white sticks of sugar candy.
Part of the Christmas celebration at the Cologne Cathedral were pageants of
living crèches. In about 1670 the choirmaster there had sticks of candy bent
into the shape of a shepherd’s crook and passed them out to children who
attended the ceremonies. This became a popular tradition, and eventually the
practice of passing out the sugar canes at living crèche ceremonies spread
The use of candy canes on Christmas trees made its way to America by the 1800’s,
however during this time they were still pure white. They are represented this
way on Christmas cards made before 1900, and it is not until the early 20th
century that they appear with their familiar red stripes.
Many people have given religious meaning to the shape and form of the candy
cane. It is said that its shape is like the letter “J” in Jesus’ name. It is
also in the shape of the shepherds’ crook, symbolic of how Jesus, like the “Good
Shepherd” watches over his children like little lambs. It is a hard candy, solid
like a “rock”, the foundation of the Church. The flavor of peppermint is similar
to another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament hyssop was
used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to symbolize the purity of
Jesus and the sacrifice he made.
Some say the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus and his
virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The three fine stripes
are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Spirit. Others say they represent the blood spilled at the beating Jesus
received at the hands of the Roman soldiers.
From its plain early beginnings to its familiar shape and color of today, the
candy cane is a symbol of Christmas and a reminder of the meaning of the