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Candy Cane

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The traditional candy cane was born over 340 years ago, when mothers used white sugar sticks as pacifiers for their babies. Around 1670, the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, bent the sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. He then used these white candy canes to keep the attention of small children during the long Nativity service.

The use of candy canes during the Christmas service spread throughout Europe. In northern Europe, sugar canes decorated with sugar roses were used to brighten the home at Christmas time.

In the 1847, the candy cane arrived in the U.S. when a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio, decorated his spruce tree with paper ornaments and white sugar canes. The red stripe was added to the candy cane around 1900, when peppermint and wintergreen were added and became the traditional flavors for the candy cane.

Some sources say that a candy maker in Indiana developed the cane as a witness of Christ's love around 1900. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. He chose white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promise of God.

The candy maker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.

Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed. Before the crucifixion Jesus was beaten; the crown of thorns was placed on His head; His back was raw from the whip. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

The flavoring in the candy cane is peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is of the mint family and was used in Old Testament times for purification and sacrifice. (John 19:29; Psalm 51:7)

Copyright © 2002 Vincent Hale