Christian Origins of the Candy Cane

By James Strand

I am not sure if these two stories about the candy cane representing Jesus’ birth are true or if they are a myth. Many people find it impossible to believe the candy cane may represent anything more than just an ordinary Christmas tree ornament. I know for sure the thought of candy canes representing Jesus Christ causes some atheists and Christ-haters to go immediately into denial and make rants against this idea. Therefore, and with no apologies, I will present these two lovely stories about the origins of the candy cane. The first one comes straight from Wikipedia. The second one is from a secular website snopes.com. Both were found on by searching for “candy cane origins.”

Restless Children, a Choirmaster and a Candy Maker

According to folklore, in 1670, in Cologne, Germany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who paid visit to infant Jesus. In addition, he used the white color of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus. From Germany, the candy canes spread to other parts of Europe, where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity. As such, according to this legend, the candy cane became associated with Christmastide.

An Indiana Candy Maker’s Testimony about the Birth of Jesus

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols from the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. 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 promises 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. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.

Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy Cane — a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still there for those who “have eyes to see and ears to hear.” Every time you see a Candy Cane, remember the Wonder of Jesus and His Great Love that came down at Christmas, and that His Love remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.

Merry Christmas to All! And to all a Good Night!

James Strand

Photo Credit:”Candy cane on tree” by Matt Reinbold – http://flickr.com/photos/furryscalyman/333307292/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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