Sunday, December 03, 2006

Legends about candy canes

As Natasha asked, I went and looked up more about candy canes.

There are many popular legends about candy canes and why they are shaped like a shephard's crook as Jesus is the Good Shephard or some say the letter J for Jesus. The hard boiled candy is supposed to be the Rock of God's love. The peppermint flavour comes from the mention of hsyssop in the Bible.

The earliest reference to candy cane shaped sweets is 1670 when it is said a choirmaster handed out boiled white candy shaped i as shepard's crooks to his choir and the children in the congregation during living crib services.
The practice gradually spread through central Europe and was incoporated into Christmas tree decorations. You can sort of see how that would happen -- the living crib services are often on Christmas Eve, people in Central Furope put their trees on Christms Eve, the cane shaped candy is just right for hanging...

Before the 20th century, all candy canes were white, and if you look at Victorian Christmas cards, you will see white canes hanging from the branches of Christmas trees.

No one is quite certain which candy-maker was resonsible for putting the stripes into the cane, but sometime in the early 20th century -- the red stripes were added. One bold red stripe and three fine red stripes. The bold red stripe is supposed to be God's love and the three fine stripes are supposed to represent the Trinity. I tend to think and believe the stories that say that this happened in the US first, possibly in Indiana. Anyway, does it really matter whose idea it was? It seems to have rapidly spread through the US during the first half of the 20th century, along with many other candy or sweet traditions.

Candy canes with the distinctive stripes are very American. I grew up with them. You do not really find over here or at least they were difficult to find in the UK twenty years ago. And they tended not to have the three fine stripes... It is surprising given the popularity of Rock.

Anyway, they can be seen as symbol of Christ's love. In one form or another, they have been around for a long time and look pretty on the tree. I am just hoping to be able to find some for y Christmas tree -- proper ones that have lots of peppermint...

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