Imagine how bleak the holiday would be without candy canes. The candy cane is the multi-tasker of the holidays – we eat, hang and treat them this time of year. Their red and white stripe are a classic holiday symbol. The candy cane’s history is as straightforward as its flavors. However, there is a religious mythology that “swirls” around our no-frills candy. Let’s look at the truths and the legends:
LEGEND: An inventive candy maker in Indiana started making hard holiday peppermint sticks in pure white to symbolize the virgin birth, the hardness of the candy represented the foundation of the church. He thought the candy was plain so he added the red stripes the largest of which represents the blood Jesus shed on the cross. The candy maker also felt that the candy maker symbolized both the Shepard’s cross and also doubled as a “J” for Jesus.
TRUTH: The candy cane originated in Europe before there was Indiana as a decoration (along with cookies) for the Christmas tree. At that time (around the 1670’s) the super sticky sweet candy could more aptly be described simply as peppermint sticks – this was before the glamorous name of “candy cane”.
TRUTH (sort of): The story is that the “cane” shape originated to symbolize the shape of the Shepard’s hook by a choral master to children as a gift for attending the community Christmas pageant. While the story of the candy cane shape can’t be definitively confirmed, it can not be definitively disproved either. So…we can chalk that one up to holiday mythos.
TRUTH: German immigrant August Imgard, who lived in Ohio is credited with introducing America to the great candy cane tradition of decorating Christmas trees in 1847.
So this year, after Santa leaves candy canes in your stocking, you’ll have some sticky truths to tell your family and friends.
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