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Hanging candy canes around the house on Christmas is an important Christmas tradition. Most people do not know the legend of the candy cane. Learn more about the history and symbolism of candy canes.

Legend Of The Candy Cane

Ever noticed how candy canes make the festival of Christmas a tad sweeter? These are delicious sweet treats, but more importantly, they are a part of traditional Christmas traditions. During Christmas, you will find them hung on driveways, skirted on the front doors, hung on Christmas trees, walls and so on. Among the many decorative items we use to decorate the house, candy canes are also an essential decorative element used during Christmas. Candy canes are long 'J' shaped white sticks, striped in red/green, and are rock-solid. Although we make it a point to adorn our homes with candy canes, what we do not know is how they became a part of Christmas traditions. Candy canes are not just decorative items; these stand for something more glorious. It is said that, a candy maker wanted his candy cane to represent Jesus Christ's greatness. Read on to know more about the legend of the candy cane, its history and what it symbolizes

History And Symbolism

History
It is believed that in the year 1670, a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, was finding it hard to discipline the children in the church during the 'Living Creche' tradition or the 'nativity ceremony' on Christmas Eve. The children were noisy and mischievous during the service and paid no attention to the choirmaster. The choirmaster found a solution to this by asking a candy maker to make sweet, cane sticks. The candy maker, upon the various instructions given by the choirmaster, combined many features to represent the life and death of Jesus Christ. These sweet sticks were slightly bent on one end to resemble a shepherd's staff. The children were rewarded these sweet sticks if they behaved well during the ceremonies and learned their prayers well. The tradition of distributing children candy canes became known throughout Europe.

In 1847, the candy canes became highly popular, when a German-Swedish settler, called August Imgard, in Wooster, Ohio got an idea to hang candy canes on his Christmas trees as a part of its decorations. Soon after, this set the trend for many people who decorated their Christmas trees. The candy canes were purely white during that time and it was only after 50 years, that the red stripes formed a part of the candy cane's designs.

In 1919, a candy maker, Bob McCormick from Georgia, set up McCormick's Famous Candy Company. He manufactured colored and flavored candy canes to remind the people about the great deeds of Jesus Christ and the significance of Christmas. Although candy canes were purely white and were shaped in the letter 'J', McCormick was credited for having introduced colors such as red/green and flavors such as wintergreen and peppermint, which became famous. In the 1950s, a man named Gregory Keller, who was a Catholic priest, invented an official machine to produce candy canes for Christmas every year.

Symbolism
  • Candy canes were initially introduced as a long sweet stick in pure white. The white, represented the purity and the sinless nature of Jesus Christ.
  • The candy cane was made firm, to signify the ‘solid rock’ or the ‘foundation of the Church’ and also the resolution of God’s promises.
  • The candy cane’s red stripes symbolized the blood shed by Jesus Christ when he was whipped and tortured on the cross.
  • The shape of candy canes bear a resemblance to the shepherd’s staff and Jesus Christ is known as the ‘Good Shepherd’, who watches over his children like little lambs. When the stick is turned upside down, it denotes the letter ‘J’ in Jesus Christ.  
  • ‘Hyssop’ was used for the purification and sacrifice during the Catholic ceremonies. Peppermint tastes similar to hyssop and so the candy canes were flavored with peppermint to stand for Jesus Christ’s purity and sacrifice.
Importance
The tradition of incorporating candy canes for Christmas decorations has been in practice for many years. Some of us are not aware about what candy canes represent and we decorate our houses without understanding the true significance of this decorative object. The candy cane is not just a sweet stick; but represents and symbolizes the life of Jesus Christ.

The legend of the candy cane can be traced back to the 17th century. Candy cane makers incorporated features to represent the glory and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Today, candy canes are strongly associated with Christmas and are not just considered as meaningless, ornamental objects. Hope you have understood the significance of candy canes through this article, and why they are considered crucial during Christmas. So, the next time you decorate your Christmas tree, or you are getting your kids to decorate it for you, make sure you tell them the interesting legend behind these delightful canes. Merry Christmas!.