With a shape of a shepherd’s staff, the candy cane represents the staff of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It also reminds us of those humble shepherds who heard the angels sing, were the first to worship the new-born Savior and the ones that spread the news of his birth.
The symbolism in the candy cane has also been extended to include the following:
- A stick of hard candy to symbolize the solid foundation of the gospel of Jesus
- It is colored pure white to symbolize the virgin birth and the purity of Jesus
- The candy cane is stained with red stripes for his sacrifice that we might have the promise of eternal life
- And peppermint flavor is added to symbolize the regal gift of spice (myrrh)
- The shape, when held upside down, in the form of the letter J to symbolize the name of Jesus and Jehovah.
Legend has it that the candy cane was invented in 1670 by a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral who handed out the bent sugar sticks among children to keep them quiet during the long Living Nativity ceremony.
The use of candy canes during the Christmas service spread throughout Europe. In northern Europe, sugar canes decorated with sugar roses were used to brighten the home at Christmas time. In the mid-1800's, the candy cane arrived in the United States when a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio, decorated his spruce tree with paper ornaments and white sugar canes. The red stripe was added to the candy cane at the turn of the century, when peppermint was added and became the traditional flavor for the candy cane.
Now when you see a candy cane you will know how it came to be.