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The Candy Cane Legend

Updated on November 21, 2010

History of the Candy Cane

People have been enjoying candy canes as far back as the 17th century. Originally, they weren't "canes" at all and weren't associated with Christianity or the holidays, but today they have strong symbolism for many people.

In their original form, candy canes were simple white sugar sticks made by hand by local confectioners and enjoyed by people throughout Europe. The distinctive "J" shape associated with candy canes wasn't adoped until 1670. Legend has it that the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent some straight sticks into canes to represent a sheperd's crook and gave them to children to keep them busy and quiet during church services, thus providing the first Christian symbolism associated with the popular treat.

The trademark red and white stripes and peppermint flavor weren't added until many years later, and there is no historic documentation to explain why candy canes suddenly started sporting color and a new spice. The stripes and spice both started appearing in the 20th century. A popular Internet email credits the invention of the candy cane to a candymaker in Indiana, although the treat was invented long before Indiana even existed, so it's unknown whether there was such a person who deliberately added the stripes and flavor to symbolize Christ's suffering and the spices brought by the wise men. But somehow the appearance and flavor of candy canes changed in the early 20th century and have stayed that way since.

Today many people look at candy canes as a Christian symbol of the holidays and a remembrance of why we celebrate Christmas. The following book and candy cane poems explain more about the Christian candy cane legend.

Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg VandenBosch

Author Lori Walburg VandenBosch and illustrator James Bernardin have created a book celebrating the Christian candy cane legend. In the book, a newcomer arrives in town and opens a candy store. When a small girl named Lucy offers to help, he tells her how an upside down candy cane is shaped like J for Jesus and the red stripes are for the blood of Christ from being whipped. The two then set out to share the meaning with the whole town. Publishers Weekly recommends the book for children aged 4 - 8, but everyone can enjoy this story.

Jesus Candy Cane Art

Candy Cane
Candy Cane

Christmas Candy Cane Poems #1

Here's a poem celebrating the Christian candy cane legend. (Note: the artwork here is was created by mannybell and is available on Zazzle on magnets, mugs, shirts, cards and other products.)

A significant symbol of Christmas
Is the simple candy cane.
It's shape is the crook of the shepherd,
One of the first who came.
The lively peppermint flavor is
The regal gift of spice.
The white is Jesus' purity.
The red is sacrifice.
The narrow stripes are friendship
And the nearness of his love.
Eternal, sweet compassion,
A gift from God above.
The candy cane reminds us all
how much God loved and cared.
And like His Christmas gift to us
It's meant to be broken and shared.

Jesus is the Reason Candy Cane Card

Christmas Candy Cane Poems #2

The image at right is also available at Zazzle.

Jesus, Gentle Shepherd,
this cane of red and white
proclaims the sweet love story
born on Christmas night

This cane, you see, when turned around
begins your name of love
and now becomes a symbol
of peace proclaimed above
The lively peppermint flavor
is the regal gift of spice
The white is your purity
and the red your sacrifice

And so this cane reminds us
of just how much you care
and like your Christmas gift to us
it's meant for all to share

Do You Enjoy Candy Canes?

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    • ezzypro profile image


      9 years ago from USA

      I love candy cane symbolism!


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