Sunday, October 31, 2010

12 Weeks of Christmas Inspirational Sunday Post

We are well into my series of Inspirational Sunday Posts with a Christmas theme.  I hope you are enjoying them!  I am:)  I love sharing some of the reasons behind the many traditions of this important holiday.  Sometimes, Christmas images and symbols are used and not explained for the generations that are coming up.  And some of us never understood them from our own childhood.  But the Christmas season and celebrations are rich in symbolic images, words, messages, songs, people, lands, colors and more.  Added to that are the many individual family traditions and cultural distinctions that surround this special time.  Although Christmas is an actual holiday (derived from holy day), there is too much to fit into a single day--we now have an entire season!  I don't believe that this is due to unnecessary commercialization of this special time.  I believe it is so that we can savor, enjoy, and prolong--for as long as possible--the magic of Christmas.

For today's Inspirational Sunday Post, I want to focus on the candy cane.  This very cute card was designed by my very talented daughter Tiffany.  It uses the Holiday Mini Catalog stamp set A Cute Christmas and puts the candy canes at front and center.  Everything else on the card supports the candy canes.

Candy canes have an interesting history and association with Christmas dating back to Germany in 1670.  According to legend, the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral handed out sugar sticks bent into the shape of a shepherd's staff to children during the rather lengthy living creche (nativity) services. The children loved them!  The shepherd's staff totally tied in to the pageant and was a great reminder to the children of the shepherds who first heard the good news of Christmas, the "good tidings of great joy."  They were also a powerful reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd.  The sugar canes became very popular, and the practice of handing them out at creche services spread throughout Europe.

Candy canes made their way to American Christmas trees by the 1800s, but they were plain white.  It was not until the early 20th century that the sugar canes received their now-familiar red stripes.  Many additional meanings have been ascribed to the candy cane going well beyond the original shepherd's staff.  Many say that the candy is hard as a rock, symbolizing the rock of Christ (I Corinthians 10:4) as well as the rock solid foundation of the Church.  The peppermint flavor is similar to that of hyssop, another plant of the same family, used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice.  The white is thought by some to symbolize the purity of Jesus Christ, who knew no sin.  The bold red stripe is said to symbolize God the Father's bold love for His children.  Traditional candy canes also have three small stripes, said to symbolize the trinity:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Some ascribe the symbolism of the beatings of Jesus to the same stripes:
 He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.
(1Pe 2:24 MKJV) emphasis mine

As you can see, candy canes are rich in history and symbolism in addition to being a wonderful Christmas sweet.  The next time you have a candy cane and a child nearby, bring the child to your lap and tell him/her the wonders of the candy cane.  You can share much of the true story of Christmas with this simple treat as your visual aid.  Then show him/her how to hang one on the tree to add beauty as well as bringing a powerful reminder of what the Christmas season is all about.

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