Christmas Traditions: Candy Canes

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Christmas Traditions: Candy Canes

There are so many Christmas traditions practiced every year, yet so few people know where these traditions come from. One of these traditions is red and white “J” shaped candy canes. The earliest recording of something similar to a candy cane was a straight white sugar stick. The most common story is that in 1670 a choirmaster was worried that his younger singers would not be able to keep quiet during a long Christmas Nativity, so he had sugar sticks made, and to remind them of the Christmas, he had the peppermints bent into a cane shape. However there are no more stories of candy canes for another 200 years, and many people think the story is false.

Around the 1900’s  red stripes and peppermint flavor were added. They were also known to be shaped into a cane. For a time, candy canes were homemade, but in 1920 Bob McCormack from Georgia started a candy cane making company with his family. The company became extremely popular and Bob’s brother-in-law, Gregory Harding Keller, invented the Keller Machine. This machine manufactured the candy and shaped the sticks into canes. In 2005 Bob’s Candies was sold to Farley and Sathers, who continues to make candy canes.

Candy canes became connected to Christmas based off of many different possible Christian symbols. One of the most common of these symbols is the red stripes represent Christ’s blood, while the white represents purity. Another symbol is the shape itself. Some believe that the shape is a shepherd’s cane while others think that it is a J shape for Jesus.

This is just one of the many examples of a simple tradition that is used by many yet so few people realize how much history is behind it. So this Christmas while you eat a candy cane, don’t forget of little children who sat quietly with a candy cane in their hand.