Thursday, December 13, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Candy Cane: Myth and Reality

It is said that the candy cane came by a candy maker in Indiana who wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas candy cane. He took several symbols from the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ. He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy, which symbolized the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, It had to be hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.He formed the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the precious name of Jesus. It could also represent the staff of the “Good Shepherd.”
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candy maker stained it with red stripes, using 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.
These Jesus celebrating candies were then, the story goes, handed out to good children in church or used as a form of identification among Christians when they were persecuted. But none of this is true! Candy canes were not invented in Indiana, since the first reports of hard candy sticks (the precursor to candy canes) come from the 17th century.
Actually, white candy sticks were actually quite common at Christmas. One story says that they turned into J’s because one choirmaster bent them to look like a shepherd’s staff for children during the nativity scene. But there is no evidence that that’s true either.
In America’s introduction to Christmas candy canes can be traced to August Imgard, a German immigrant who’s credited with introducing the Christmas tree to Ohio in 1847. The National Confectioners Association makes a claim that Imgard “decorated a small blue spruce with paper ornaments and candy canes.” But an article from 1938 points out a ceremony that a different kind of sweet was used.
Ornaments were made of paper, festooned in long chains by the younger members of the pioneer community. Kuchen baked according to a recipe sent from Bavaria by Imgard’s mother, hung upon the tree and served both as ornaments and tidbits. The cookies were colored with brown sugar and the family spent weeks baking them in quantities for the guests. Gilded nuts were other ornaments and inside the gilded shells were warm messages of greeting.
Red-and-white striped candy didn’t show up until around the turn of the century in America.
Other myths concerning the candy cane:
A sweet treat made for children who behaved in church.
A way for Christians to identify each other during time of persecution.
Whether how the candy cane came to be, now they are as much a part of the holidays as Santa Claus.


Janice Seagraves said...

I didn't know any of that. I guess the candy cane is just another mystery.


Pamela K. Kinney said...

Like many things about Christmas, Janice.