The Christmas Candy Cane originated in Germany. They started as straight white sugar sticks.
A story says that a choirmaster, in 1670, was worried about the children sitting quietly all through the long Christmas nativity service. So he gave them something to eat to keep them quiet! As he wanted to remind them of Christmas, he made them into a 'J' shape like a shepherds crook, to remind them of the shepherds that visited the baby Jesus at the first Christmas. However, the earliest records of 'candy canes' comes from over 200 years later, so the story, although rather nice, probably isn't true!
The story tells of a Candy maker in Indiana who wanted to make a candy that would help us remember who Christmas is really about. So he made a Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for 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 sinless nature of Jesus. Hard candy to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the name of Jesus. It also represented the staff of the “Good Shepherd”.
The candymaker then included red stripes. He used three small stripes and a large red stripe to represent the suffering Christ endured at the end of his life.
Lessons we can learn and remember from the Candy Cane:
• The Shepherd's Staff: He chose to make the candy cane in the shape of a shepherd’s staff. After all, Jesus is the shepherd to his followers and the Bible notes that the “sheep” would hear His voice and follow him (Psalm 23:1, John 10:11, John 10:27-30, Isaiah 40:11).
• The Letter J for Jesus: Not only was the candy cane in the shape of a staff, but when held upside down, it formed a “J,” which stood for Jesus (Luke 1:31, Matthew 1:21).
• He is A Rock: The candy maker chose hard candy for the candy cane, which was done to remind children that Jesus was our “rock,” dependable and strong (Psalm 31:3).
• By His Stripes: Wide red stripes were added to the candy cane, representative of the crucifixion and the blood Jesus shed for our sins.
• Red-His Shed Blood: Through his blood, we are given salvation and life (Revelation 1:5, John 3:16, Luke 22:20).
• White-Purification from Sin: There are also white stripes on the candy cane, which represents the holiness, and purity of Jesus, who was sinless (I John 1:7).
• Sweet Fragrance of Christ: Peppermint was the flavor that the candy maker chose for the candy cane. Peppermint was very similar to hyssop, which was used for sacrifice and purification in the Old Testament, reminding us of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. It also reminds us of the spices brought by the Wise Men when they came to visit Jesus (Psalm 51:7, John 10:29, Matthew 2:11).
• Broken For Us: Of course, when the candy cane is eaten, it is often broken, which the candy maker meant as a reminder that when Jesus was crucified, his body was broken (I Cor. 11:24).
• Love of Christ: The candy cane was also made to be given as a gift, representing the love of Jesus when he gave us the gift of salvation.