Debunking Candy Cane Myths

Debunking Candy Cane Myths

This image has been floating around for years and discusses what the candy cane colors and shape symbolize.

Candy Cane Myths
Myths commonly associated with Candy Canes

The myths in this image are:

  1. The Candy Cane was created for Christian symbolism
  2. Its shape is symbolic of Jesus
  3. Its shape also represents a shepherd’s staff
  4. The red coloring symbolizes Jesus’s spilled blood
  5. The white coloring is linked to a racist statement about washing our sins away and turning us white
  6. Something about fucking stripes healing us?
  7. And some bullshit about Jesus’s love growing 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. The idea that candy canes are symbols for Christ has been circulating since the late 90svia email (and now in meme form), 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 claim has been 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 when 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 culture.

Snopes Reports:

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 religious stories. Of course we know how Christmas was overtaken by Christians (though there is significant history outside of Christianity surrounding December 25th and the winter solstice in many cultures).

Cologne, Germany myth

Another myth in the history of candy canes:

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.”


Of course this is complete bullshit. All you have to do is look at history and you’ll see that this is nothing more than anecdotal evidence. The earliest reference to candy canes being associated with Christmas wasn’t until the mid 19th century 1.

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 is to a Catholic priest named Father Keller who 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…and engineering is something I can totally respect.


[1] Snopes

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