Earlier this month, as I was getting in the spirit of celebrating the birth of the Christ child, I bought a dozen candy canes to hang upon my snowman decoration standing with his little wooden arms outstretched for such a festive purpose.
I was surprised, upon inspection of the candy cane box, to learn the following about the delightful holiday confections.
The candy cane was invented back in 1670 by a German choirmaster, who partially melted and bent white stick candies into the shape of a shepherd’s staff to amuse the antsy children in his Christmas choir during the long service.
The custom spread throughout Europe during the following centuries, and came to America with a German immigrant named August Imgard in 1847, who was the first to decorate his tree with the still-all-white candies.
Sometime around 1900, a candy maker in Indiana wanted to create a Christmas confection that bore witness to the true significance of the occasion, so he added red stripes and advertised the following associated symbolism:
White: represented the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus.
Red: represented the blood that was shed by Jesus on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
“J” shape: represented the name of Jesus, as well as the staff of the Good Shepherd, who sent his son, Jesus, into the world to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world.
It’s unknown if this same Indiana candy man added peppermint flavor at this time, but someone did at the turn of the 20th century and the rest, as they say, is history.
So the next time you find yourself nibbling on a candy cane, take a moment to thank Papa God for your most precious gift this Christmas!
Wishing you and yours a happy and holy celebration of the Christ-child’s birth.