● History of
Christmas Trees ●
History of Ornaments
History of Christmas
History of Lights
ne of the most often seen symbols of
Christmas is the candy cane. Not only are candy canes used as a
sweet Christmastime treat but they are also used for decoration.
How did this seasonal candy get its familiar shape, and when did
it become part of Christmas tradition?
choirmaster there had sticks of candy bent
into the shape of a shepherd’s crook and passed them out to children
who attended the ceremonies. This became a popular tradition, and
eventually the practice of passing out the sugar canes at living
creche ceremonies spread throughout Europe.
When the practice of using Christmas trees to celebrate
Christmas became popular in Europe the people there began making
decorations for their trees. Many of the decorations were food
items including cookies and candy. The predecessor of our modern
candy cane appeared at about this time in the seventeenth
century. These were straight, white sticks of sugar candy.
Part of the Christmas celebration at the Cologne Cathedral were
pageants of living creches. In about 1670 the
The use of candy canes on Christmas trees made its way to America by
the 1800’s, however during this time they were still pure white.
They are represented this way on Christmas cards made before 1900,
and it is not until the early 20th century that they appear with
their familiar red stripes.
Many people have given religious meaning to the shape and form of
the candy cane. It is said that its shape is like the letter “J” in
Jesus’ name. It is also in the shape of the shepherds’ crook,
symbolic of how Jesus, like the “Good Shepherd” watches over his
children like little lambs. It is a hard candy, solid like a “rock”,
the foundation of the Church. The flavor of peppermint is similar to
another member of the mint family, hyssop. In the Old Testament
hyssop was used for purification and sacrifice, and this is said to
symbolize the purity of Jesus and the sacrifice he made.
Some say the white of the candy cane represents the purity of Jesus
and his virgin birth. The bold red stripe represents God’s love. The
three fine stripes are said by some to represent the Holy Trinity:
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Others say they represent
the blood spilled at the beating Jesus received at the hands of the
From its plain early beginnings to its familiar shape and color of
today, the candy cane is a symbol of Christmas and a reminder of the
meaning of the holiday. -- Laura Witcher Goldstein