Christmas Traditions with a Twist!
10 Candy Cane Activities that Keep Christ in Christmas
Our family LOVES traditions! There is no other time of the year that has quite as many traditions in our house than Christmas. Each November I start plotting out which traditions we will use to celebrate Christmas. Which night will we have “Frosty” deliver our new matching PJs? What night will we put up the tree? Will we sleep under the tree the first night we put it up or some other evening? What Sunday will Advent start on this year? Which 25 books should I wrap for the kids to “open” each day until Christmas?
So many traditions, so little time! I always have to stop myself from getting too carried away with the fun. As a culture, we jump wholeheartedly into all things Christmas and forget about the rich meanings behind so many of the Christmas traditions–and the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Did you know that most of the “traditional” Christmas traditions and symbols all have hidden meanings that point to Jesus?
- The evergreen pine trees tell us of the eternal life we have in Christ.
- The presents we give remind us that Jesus is the best present ever given to us.
- The lights on the tree date back to Martin Luther and his enthusiasm to teach his children about the beauty of a starry December night.
- The angel or star on top of our tree tell the story of the first Christmas night when the angels appeared to the shepherds & a bright star shone in the night to declare Christ’s birth.
- Even Santa Claus points us to Jesus! Saint Nicholas was the one who gave us the traditions of the stockings we hang and the giving we do to commemorate Christmas.
This year our family is celebrating Christmas with a “twist.” Like so many other traditions, the candy cane has a wonderful Christmas tradition that points to us to Jesus. Many of you have heard the legend of the candy cane, but for those you haven’t let me share the highlights.
Back in 1670 a choirmaster in Germany had the idea to give young children a hard candy stick to suck on during the Christmas service in an effort to keep them quiet. Later in 1847, a candy maker in Indiana decided to give the white stick a little “twist”. Legend has it that he wanted the candy to represent Jesus, so he added a few special touches to the candy.
- The white represents the forgiveness of our sins and our perfect & pure Savior
- The red symbolizes our precious Jesus’s blood that was shed for us
- The shape is both a shepherd's staff (our Good Shepherd) and a “J” for Jesus
- The peppermint is meant to remind us of the new, fresh life we have in Jesus
- The hardness of the candy depicts how Christ is the solid Rock of our salvation.
10 Traditions to Give Your Christmas a Twist!
1) Read the The Legend of the Candy Cane:
This beautiful book tells the whole story of the candy cane. This book will be the first book we read and will act as a way of introducing my younger kiddos to the story of the candy cane. It would make a great addition to your Christmas library, too.
2) Candy Cane Cocoa:
Did you know that a small candy cane is the perfect amount of peppermint flavor to add to your hot cocoa? It is! Just add the candy cane to the steamy hot drink and stir for a bit. It will dissolve and leave you with the perfect cup of yum! Just don't forget to top it off with whipped cream and sprinkles or crushed candy cane!
3) Decorate with Candy Canes:
The easiest way to decorate with candy canes is to hang some on your Christmas tree. However, if you are feeling super crafty, Pintrest is overflowing with candy cane craft ideas.
4) Make Salt Dough Ornaments:
In addition to adding some real candy canes to our tree, we might actually attempt to make salt dough ornaments. The plan is to make extras for friends and neighbors. This fun, crafty site has an easy recipe to use. No time for making and baking ornaments, use modeling clay and paint.
5) Visit a Candy Shop:
Logan’s Candies in Ontario, CA has candy cane making demonstrations each year around Christmas. If you don’t live near southern California, don’t have a candy store that makes them, or you just don’t have time to go, you can watch this youtube video on Logan’s Candies.
6) Make Candy Cane Taffy:
Once you see the candy cane demo, live or online, you might just want to try your hand at making some canes yourself. The best thing about this activity is that you can retell the story of the candy cane as you make them — maybe even read the book again. Here is an easy recipe to make some canes of your own.
Recipe provided courtesy of Taste of Home magazine. Find more great recipes at www.tasteofhome.com.
7) Make Candy Cane Pretzels:
Something sweet like the candy cane deserves some thing salty to balance it out. Enter the pretzel! The perfect blank canvas for chocolate and candy. Simply take some pretzels sticks, dip them in melted chocolate, and roll them in crushed candy cane. Voila! The perfect tasty treat in less than 5 minutes! Now, if you are really feeling industrious, you can make soft pretzels from scratch. Either activity is sure to bring smiles to your family's faces (& their tummies).
8) Pick a Pintrest Project:
Now we are not a “Pintrest perfect” family by any means. Last time I tried a Pintrest recipe I ended up with a burn on my face. Long story. However, I will allow the kids to each pick one project for us to work on using candy canes. I’m pretty sure they will ALL pick something edible from my Pintrest page.
9) Candy Cane Outreach:
About three years ago our small group decided to go to a local mall with our families and pass out candy canes. Each candy cane had a mini Candy Cane Legend tied to it. It was a ton of fun. No one can really turn down a cute kid handing them a candy cane. We all had wonderful opportunities to share the story of Jesus through the legend of the candy cane. Another “twist” on this idea is to hand them out in your neighborhood. You can even create a little hot cocoa & candy cane gift to give out with the legend. Your local dollar store probably even has mugs you could stick it all together in. A fun idea for the left-over candy canes you may have.
10) “Happy Birthday Jesus!” Cake:
You can’t have a birthday party without a cake, right? Every Christmas, I make our family’s favorite chocolate mint cake. I decorate it with crushed candy canes around the sides. Then I put a small candy cane on the top as my “J” & use red icing to write the “esus”. Turns out looking very festive and is super delicious! We even decorate the house with green and red streamers and balloons. Just don’t forget to sing Him “Happy Birthday!”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
*This post was originally part of a wonderful series called 12 Days of Christmas Teachable Moments on Your Vibrant Family. *
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