(For the next four weeks, each post will be an abridged excerpt from Every Wednesday Morning, written by my mom, Beth Smith. If you want to read all 64 devotional essays in their full length form, you can grab a copy of her book at Etsy.com. )
Welcome to the Christmas season! Since candy canes are popping up in stores everywhere, I thought I’d share with you a few legends regarding their origin:
- One story says that in 1670 a choirmaster at the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, handed out sticks of sugar to his young singers to keep them quiet during the long Living Nativity Ceremony at Christmas, bending them into shepherds’ crooks in honor of the occasion.
- Another says that in 1847 a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio, decorated a small spruce tree with paper ornaments and white candy sticks.
- We do know that, around 1920, Bob McCormack began making candy canes as Christmas gifts for his friends and family, twisting and bending each piece by hand. The story goes that in the 1950’s, a relative of Bob’s invented a machine that automated the candy cane’s production and made Bob’s Candies, Inc. one of the world’s largest producers of that Christmas treat.
I thought it would also be interesting to look at some of the Christian symbolism of the candy cane today:
- Turned with the curve up, the candy does indeed look like a shepherd’s crook. We know that Jesus is the good shepherd who laid down his life for us.
- The “J” that the candy makes when the curve is down stands for the name of Jesus. And that is the greatest name of all. It calls us to worship and brings power to our prayers.
- The hardness of the candy is a reminder that that Jesus is the Rock. He is stronger than anything the world can throw at us.
- The white of the candy points to the purity of Jesus. Christ was without sin, even though he was tempted. Because of this, we can go to him for help with our own temptations.
- The red stripes on the candy may stand for the blood Christ shed for us on the cross. In the words of an old hymn, “His blood can make the foulest clean.” His death, his blood, covers our sins so that we are made right with God.
Who does Jesus want to believe in Him? All of us. All of us! It is not his will that even one of us be lost. That’s what Christmas is all about.
So maybe it’s not “just a candy cane” any more. It’s a reminder of our Lord and his love for all of us. Merry Christmas!