"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'"
Country in Focus: Germany
Tradition: Candy canes
Activity: Add more items to your goody bags. Make candy cane cookies.
Materials: sugar cookie mix, red food coloring, peppermint flavoring
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a good baking spray, grease your cookie sheet.
3. After you make the sugar cookie dough, split the dough into two bowls.
4. In one bowl, put a few drops of the red food coloring and the peppermint flavoring.
5. Take the regular dough and roll into into small balls.
6. Form each ball into small snakes.
7. Do the same with the red dough.
8. Intertwine the regular dough and the red dough, forming a candy cane.
9. Place each candy cane on the cookie sheet forming the crook for the shepherd's staff at the top.
10. Bake for 8 minutes.
While an early form candy cane may have been used by French priests in the early 1400s, the credit for this candy's invention is generally given to the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. In 1670, he bent the straight sticks of sugar into the cane form to represent shepherd's staff. Then he distributed them at the church service to keep the children quiet during his choir's performance. Others picked up on this idea, and soon all Europe was using this as a way to keep children quiet at Christmas services and at live Nativities.
At first the candy was only white. The red stripes weren't added until later in the 1900s. Contrary to the urban legend, there is no official credit given for the stripes being added. Christmas cards before the 1900s show the candy canes without stripes. Christmas cards after the 1900s show the candy canes with them. There are certainly many stories that we can give the candy canes for the colors, just as we do for candy corn in the fall and jelly beans at Easter.
Candy canes now come in a variety of colors and flavors. Have fun making your cookies!