My kids know that as soon as I come in with candy canes, Christmas is on its way! They love peppermint all year-long, but the actual candy cane is special for the holiday season. We make it a big deal when strategically placing them on the tree and eat them daily throughout Advent and our Christmas Around the World studies. One of the things we have studied about is the History of the Candy Cane! If you’re not familiar with the history, pull up a chair, grab a candy cane and continue reading.
Candy Canes are often associated with Christmastide and St. Nicholas Day. Legend has it that a choir master at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany in 1670 decided to hand out sugar sticks to young children to keep them quiet during the live crèche (Nativity). Because special event took place during Christmas and to justify giving the kids sugary sweets, he had the sticks bent into the shape of shepherd crooks. These sugary treats eventually made their way to other parts of Europe. A recipe for candy sticks eventually appeared in publication in 1844 and the candy cane has been mentioned in literature since 1866.
In Wooster, Ohio a German-Sweedish immigrant used candy canes and paper ornaments to decorate blue spruce. Sound familiar? The red and white stripes along with the peppermint wasn’t added into the mix (pun intended) until the turn of the century.
So how did the Candy Cane get its stripes?
Indiana is the home to that invention. A local candy maker wanted to come up with something that reminded him of the birth of our Savior. That’s when he created our traditional Christmas Candy Cane. He began this process with a stick of pure white hard candy. The white symbolizes the virgin birth of Jesus and also serves as a reminder of His sinless nature. The hardness of the candy reminds us of the solid foundation of the church and is also a reminder of the firmness of the promises of God. The shape of the J represents the name of Jesus and the staff of the Good Shepherds. The candy maker then added three red stripes which represented the torture that Jesus endured and the blood He shed while on the cross. When the candy can is broken, that represents the body of Christ broken for us.
The candy cane was first mentioned in publication in association with Christmas in 1874 and it wasn’t until around 1882 that it was first hung on Christmas Trees. Chicago, Illinois is home to the first patent for candy cane making machines. The Bunte Brothers, who were Chicago based confectioners, filed for the patent in the early 1920’s.
I mentioned earlier that candy canes were also tied to Saint Nicholas Day. It is said that these delightful treats represent the crosier (Bishop’s staff) of the Christian Bishop Saint Nicholas. For more on The Legend of the Candy Cane, I definitely encourage you to read the story with your family.
Now I have a treat for you! I have put together a wonderful printable that is full of goodies! This will help to remind you of the Legend of the Candy Cane! I hope you enjoy!