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Legend or True?

182. Legend or True?

How about the candy canes? Have you heard the story?

It is told that in 1642 when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came into power, they curtailed the celebrations of Christmas. Sort of thought they were too commercialized.

But there’s always someone who can’t deal with the new rule and this time it was a candy-maker. He was Christian and decided to create what would look like a piece of candy—red and white. But it would have an underlying meaning. Shape of a shepherd’s crook as in Jesus, the Shepherd; and shape of a shepherd’s crook as in those shepherds on the hills that night that heard the angels singing “Gloria!” The candy-maker added three stripes and secretly told people that there were three thin stripes to remind you of the Trinity, and there was one thick stripe to remind you of the life of Jesus. The authorities (according to the legend) never knew that the created candy was religious.

One year soon after I heard about this legend I went to the grocery where there was an entire display of boxes and boxes of candy canes. I carefully started moving them around and then moved others, and then others. The store manager approached me and said, “Can I help you with something?” Just then I had found three boxes of candy canes that miraculously had three thin red stripes and one thick red stripe. I smiled, and said, “I just now found the ones I wanted. They had to have the right kind of stripes.” He looked dubious.

So each year after the third Sunday in Advent, I hang candy canes—all over my apartment. Grandchildren help and we find wonderful, magical places to hang them. Look around where you live—see any spot you can hang a candy cane? or two? or twenty? It will remind you every day of a certain shepherd. But when you’re in the grocery looking for the right combination of stripes, watch out for the manager.

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