Debunking Myths of the Candy Cane
Soooooo there is this image that has been floating around.
The myths in this image are:
- The Candy Cane was created for christian symbolism
- Its shape means Jesus
- Its shape also represents a shepards staff
- The red coloring is for Jesus' spilled blood
- A racist statement about washing our sins away and turning us white
- Something about fucking stripes healing us?
- Jesus' love grows sweeter every blahblahblah no it doesn't
All these myths are basically centered around one major myth....
Myth: Candy Canes are symbols of Christ
No they are not. It's just fucking silly to think this. This idea that candy canes are symbols for christ has been circulating around since the late 90s1 with an email, excerpt below:
A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols from the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
This is proven to be a false history of the candy cane and is pretty much par for the course as far as christianity goes.
One part of this myth is that, like the Icthys symbol, it was used to denote that you were christian at a time in Europe where christians were heavily persecuted... Not sure when that was but hey let them have it. I mean it's not like persecution isn't deeply ingrained in every fucking level of their goddamned culture.
The first of these claims — that the candy cane was intended as a means by which persecuted Christians could furtively identify each other — is directly contradicted by history. Even questionable accounts regarding the origins of the candy cane place its origins no earlier the latter part of the 17th century, at which time Europe was almost entirely Christian.
Snopes goes on to point out that this is a modern day example of christians trying to overtake a secular object, holiday, or whatever and infuse it with their own cultural stories. Of course we know how christmas was overtaken by christians because originally it was a pagan holiday but the christians had a cure for that shit right.
Cologne, Germany myth
There is another myth of the history of candy canes that christians made up to infuse their culture into the holiday treat:
Church history records that in 1670 the choirmaster at Germany's Cologne Cathedral was faced with a problem that still challenges parents, teachers, and choir directors today. In ancient Cologne, as well as in thousands of churches today, the children in the choir often grew restless and noisy during the long services. He sought out a local candy maker, and after looking over the treats in his shop, the music leader paused in front of some white sweet sticks. Yet the choirmaster wondered if the priests and parents would allow him to give the children in his choir candy to eat during a church service. The choirmaster asked the candy maker if he could bend the sticks and make a crook at the top of each one. The candy would not be just a treat; it would be a teaching tool. The choirmaster decided that the candy's pure white color would represent the purity of Christ. The crook would serve as a way for the children to remember the story of the shepherds who came to visit the baby Jesus. The shepherds carried staffs or canes, and with the hook at the top of the stick, the candy now looked like a cane."
(pulled from snopes1)
This is complete bullshit of course if you just look at history and the fact that this is nothing more than anecdotal evidence. The earliest reference to candy canes being associated with christmas at all wasn't until the mid 19th century1.
Candy cane type candies have been observed as far back as 1844 but the signature shape and coloring of the canes didn't appear until the 20th century.
Closest link to Christianity
The closest link to christianity that we can get is a Catholic priest named Father Keller that invented a machine that would make the general shape of a candy cane. That's it. Nothing fancy but he engineered the fuck out of the problem.