This was my message for Elevate Makati last Saturday. We’re doing a series called “Not Your Ordinary Christmas Series.” We talk about the usual objects normally seen during Christmas season. One is the candy cane.
One of the most common items during Christmastime is the candy cane. I did some research and found interesting facts about it.
When 17th century European Christians adopted the use of Christmas trees, they hung food decorations such as candies and cookies. Our candy cane finds its roots here. It was originally straight and all-white. The first curved-shaped cane can be traced back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany gave them out to children during the nativity services (it was shaped like a shepherd’s staff to honor shepherds). These quieted the fidgety children. The red stripes were only added after 1900; no one is sure who invented them.
There are also lots of legends (more accurately, myths) surrounding the candy cane, adding religious symbolisms to it. I say legends or myths because there are no historical evidences to support them (and we now know of the origin of the candy cane). While I acknowledge this truth, I believe one story is worth telling. It’s about a candy maker in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution.1 During this time, Christians weren’t allowed to meet. So the candy maker made a way to encourage his friends without being caught. So he made a candy in which its elements have significant meanings. (Below is my slightly-edited version of the symbolisms.)
The candy was shaped like a shepherd’s staff, reminding us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. John 10:11, 14 says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I know my own and my own know me” (see also Psalm 23) As the Good Shepherd, he knows, feeds, leads, and protects His sheep.
The white color of the candy shows that Jesus is holy (see Hebrews 4:15). In contrast, humanity (we) is sinful. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because man has sinned, he faces spiritual death (Romans 6:23). We are doomed to hell (Revelation 21:8). We have been willfully rebelling against God, like a sheep that has gone astray from its shepherd (Isaiah 53:6).
But the red stripe is a reminder that Jesus died for sinners like you and me. Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Likewise, Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; / he was crushed for our iniquities; / upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, / and with his wounds we are healed.” He took mankind’s punishment and declared them righteous (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). He did this to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Finally, when the candy is inverted, it looks like the letter “J”. It is a reminder of Jesus Himself. He is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6). We can receive His forgiveness for our sins by repenting of them (Acts 3:19, 1 John 1:9) and placing our faith in Him (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). Aside from the promise of forgiveness, we are assured of other spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), which includes eternal life (John 3:16, 17:3; Romans 6:23).
Will you place your faith in Jesus?
http://inventors.about.com/od/foodrelatedinventions/a/candy_canes.htm, accessed 2012-12-10
http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/candycane.asp, accessed 2012-12-10
1I’m still finding the source of this story. Keep in touch for updates.