Have you ever wondered why the candy cane is red and white and how it became a Christmas favorite?
Would you believe that the candy cane was actually invented as a tool to keep children quiet? It's true. Just like children today, kids in the 1670's in Germany had trouble sitting reverently through church. Then a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral, came up with a plan to keep the children quiet and happy. He took a well known candy, a "sugar stick" and bent one end to resemble that of a Shepherd's staff. He gave it to the children during the long church Christmas ceremonies. That was the quietest church service they had had in a long time!
Candy canes quickly became a tradition – at first mostly reserved for Christmas themed religious ceremonies, but they eventually found their way amongst the other sweets on the family Christmas tree.
For many years, candy canes were all white. In the 1920's, a man by the name of Bob McCormack began making the his candy with a red stripe to symbolize the blood Jesus shed for us. At first, Bob painted his candy canes for family and friends every year by hand. That all changed when his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest by the name of Gregory Keller, invented a machine that automated the candy cane creation process in about 1950.
Today when we eat a candy cane at Christmastime, we can think of the symbols of Christ that it holds-The shape represents the shepherds' staff and reminds us that angels came to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. It also reminds us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd! The white color reminds us that Jesus lived a pure, clean life. The red stripe represents the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
You can make these fun cookies with your kids as you teach them about the symbols in the candy cane.
Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
OR 3/4 teaspoon peppermint flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/2 cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix butter sugar, egg, and flavorings thoroughly. Add flour and salt, Mix well. Shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours or until easy to handle.
Roll into 4 inch strips; place on baking sheet. Curve top down to form handle or cane. Bake 9 minutes. While still warm, remove from pan and sprinkle with candy and sugar mixture. Dough may be divided in half and colored with 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring if desired. Roll each color into strips, place side by side, press together lightly and twist like a rope.