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The Catholic Defender: The Tradition of the Candy Cane

I remember not too long ago I was thinking on what I was going to do next regarding our pro-Christmas agenda, Fox News was reporting there was an attack on the Candy Cane because of it's Christian foundation.

Well, I am very happy to bring back this wonderful story.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ pure and simple.

Over the years traditions have developed to help bring joy to the season of Christmas bringing many sub-traditions that help us focus on the reason for the season.

It is centered around family, faith, and love. It is about traditions that help people identify to the birth of Christ.

As Deepertruth looks at the season of Christmas, I thought it was interesting to look at the history of the candy cane.

I remember growing up putting candy canes on the Christmas tree. They were usually found in the stockings around the fireplace.

Sometime around 1650 candy canes began to appear in Europe as candy makers developed hard sugar sticks originally straight white in color.

Soon, Christians took the idea of taking these sugar sticks and forming the familiar cane appearance making them easy to place on Christmas trees. As decorations, candy canes made great presents for children adding to the Christmas joy around the Christmas tree.

About 1670, a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany created the sugar cane to appear like the shepherd's staff that the bishop as Shepherd of the flock symbolizes. These became popular giving them out at Midnight Mass all over Europe to children.

It wasn't long before candy makers began adding sugar and decorated the candy canes with a rose color appearance. It wasn't until about 1847 that the candy cane tradition made it to America thanks to the German immigrant, August Imgard who first decorated his Christmas tree in Wooster Ohio.

From there, candy canes have become an American tradition. About 1900, candy canes began to appear bearing the familiar red-and-white stripes adding the classic peppermint and wintergreen flavors.

From the Christian tradition, the "J" shape is a constant reminder to Jesus as the colors red and white stripes represent the purity from the white color and the blood represented by the red color. Very much in line with the Divine Mercy message.

The three red stripes originally stood for the Trinity as it symbolized three stripes on one candy cane. The hardness of the candy cane came to represent the Catholic Church's foundation being based on solid rock.

The peppermint flavor represented the hyssop branch that played an important roll at the first Passover (Exodus 12:22) and also Christ's crucifixion scene (John 19:29)..

We are living in times when religious celebrations are becoming more and more secularized and many have forgotten many of the original meanings behind our traditions.

Advent is an opportunity to prepare for the coming of the King not only as a child in a manger, but as importantly, his Second Coming which should always be within our hope and sight.

St. Nicholas Day Blessing of Candy Canes

Good St. Nicholas, we honor you on this your holy feast day.

We rejoice that you are the patron saint and the holy symbol of joy for many peoples of many lands.

Come, great-hearted saint, and be our patron and companion as we, once again, prepare our homes and hearts for the great feast of Christmas, the birth of the Eternal Blessing, Jesus Christ.

May these sweets, these candy canes, be a sign of Advent joy for us.

May these candy canes, shaped just like your Bishop's staff, be for us a sign of your benevolent care.

We rejoice that you are the holy bringer of gifts and that so many have been delighted through your great generosity.

Help us to be as generous of heart. Wherever these candy canes are hung, on tree or wall or door, may they carry with them the bright blessing of God.

May all who shall taste them experience the joy of God upon their tongues and in their hearts.

We ask God, now, to bless these your brightly striped sweets in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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