Legend has it that in the 18th Century somewhere in Europe any public display of Christianity was forbidden. No crosses or Bibles were allowed and the Christians were greatly oppressed. One old man, a candy maker by profession, was particularly distressed by this. He loved the Lord with all of his heart and couldn’t stand to not share that love with the world. His heart especially went out to the children when Christmas drew near and no one was allowed to have a nativity scene (or crèche`) on display in their homes. He prayed for God to show him some way to make Christmas gifts for the children which would teach them the story of Christ.
The answer was the candy cane. The candy cane was in the shape of a shepherd’s staff to show them Jesus is our Shepherd and we are His flock. A sheep follows his own shepherd, knows his voice, and trusts him and knows that he is totally safe with him. The sheep will follow no other shepherd but their own. This is how we are to be with Jesus if we truly follow Him (John 10:11; Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11)
Upside down the candy cane was a “J”, the first letter of Jesus’ name. (Luke 1:31) It was made of hard candy to remind us that Christ is the rock of our salvation. The wide red stripes on the candy cane were to represent the blood He shed on the cross for each one of us so that we can have eternal life through Him. He redeems us and cleanses us with His shed blood – the only thing that can wash away our sin. (Luke 22:20) The white stripes on a candy cane represented the virgin birth, sinless life and purity of our Lord. He is the only human being who ever lived on this earth who never committed a single sin. Even though He was tempted just as we are, He never sinned. (1 Peter: 22) The three narrow red stripes on candy canes symbolized that by His stripes, or wounds, we are healed and the Trinity – the Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Before the crucifixion Jesus was beaten; the crown of thorns was placed on His head; His back was raw from the whip. We are healed by those wounds. He bore our sorrows and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3)The flavoring in the candy cane was peppermint, which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is of the mint family and was used in Old Testament times for purification and sacrifice just as Jesus sacrificed His life for ours. (John 19:29; Psalm 51:7)
The old candy maker told them that when we break our candy cane it reminds us that Jesus’ body was broken for us. When we have communion it is a reminder of what He did for us. (1 Cor. 11:24) If we share our candy cane and give some to someone else in love because we want to, it represents that same love of Jesus because He is to be shared with one another in love. (1 John 4:7, 8)God gave Himself to us when He sent Jesus. He loved us so much He wants us to spend eternal life with Him… which we can do if we accept Jesus in our hearts as Savior and Lord. (John 1:12; John 3:3, 16)
Some people believe this story of the candy cane is just a legend. Others believe it really happened. We do not know for sure exactly how the candy cane was invented, but there is one thing for certain… it is an excellent picture of Christ and His love for you.