The ADVENTure of Christmas (5 of 12)

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, December 06, 2005 at 9:31 AM


*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

As we delve deeper and deeper into the roots and origins of many of our Christmas traditions, let us not forget that many of these stories, as I have tried to depict, contain elements of folklore and legend. Perhaps one of the most mysterious and debated of our Christmas traditions is the candy cane.

The most common (yet false) story of the candy cane's origin is that a candy maker in Indiana wanted to make the candy as a "witnessing tool" and decided to incorporate elements of Jesus' birth, death, and ministry. Nice thought, but probably not true. (You can read the rest of this legend here.)

I've got to pause here to give it up for the author of my primary source who evidently did her research and also realized the error in the above account. For that, I'm quite glad, because the story that is more widely accepted as truth is quite a great deal more humorous indeed! In its days of old, the candy cane was a mere stick (straight, not curved) of white sugar that served as a pacifier for fussy babies. In the 1670's a German choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral bent the sugar sticks into canes to represent a shepherd's staff. Why did he do this? To keep the children occupied during the long winded nativity services!! ha ha ha!

In regards to the red stripes, no one knows exactly where they came from. Some think our above mentioned Indiana candy maker truly comes into the picture here, but who knows? However, we do know that it was around the turn of the 20th century as Christmas cards before depict all white candy canes whereas Christmas cards after depict canes with red stripes (as one source noted).

Regardless of where the red stripes originated, they now serve as a picture of the brutal beatings and the 40 lashes across his back that Jesus Christ took so that we may become His co-heirs and His friends. Isaiah 53:5 says, "...by His stripes we are healed."

As to the flavoring of the sugar and striped canes, it is also unsure when and why that was added. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the flavor of peppermint is very closely related to that of hyssop, a plant used by the ancient Jews in their sacrifices to God, because Jesus was the perfect and final sacrifice that was made.

I shall end this post with a quote directly from "The ADVENTure of Christmas" by Lisa Whelchel. "Isn't it wonderful that every candy cane you share is a story waiting to be told and an invitation to 'taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8)"

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