I confess: I am one of those horrible people who love to have a blessed Advent. Because of this, my daughter and I were making candy cane soap as Christmas gifts for her teachers, babysitters, and honorary grandparents before Advent even begins this year. She asked me about candy canes, and it became a wonderful opportunity to spend some God Time together. Get ready to feed your family’s faith as you learn more about candy canes this week!
Question: Why do we have candy canes at Christmas time? (you could wonder about this as a family)
Answers: There are actually several reasons for candy canes. I know three that really help with the Advent and Christmas story:
- Saint Nicholas: Saint Nicholas was a bishop in the church in Turkey. Bishops traditionally wear red robes with white trim and carry a crozier, which is a shepherd’s crook, because it reminds us that Bishops are the chief shepherds over a certain number of churches. The red and white candy cane reminds us of St. Nicholas, and his generosity in anonymous giving to the poor, the needy, and the hopeless. You can learn more about St. Nicholas at http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/home/
- Jesus: If you turn a candy cane upside down, it is the letter “J” for “Jesus.” Jesus’ blood (red) through his death on the cross washes us clean (white) of sin. He had to come to earth as a real person to do this, so candy canes remind us of Jesus, his life, his death, and how he loved us enough to save us. You can find this meaning of the candy cane in poetic form here: http://ministry-to-children.com/candy-cane-poem-about-jesus/
- The Shepherds: The first witnesses that God chose to meet baby Jesus were not kings or important people; they were shepherds. Shepherds lived out in the countryside and weren’t always welcomed into town. However, when they heard the news of the angels, they took the risk, went into town and found Jesus. Once they had seen him for themselves, they couldn’t stop telling everyone they met about the miracle in Bethlehem. Candy canes remind us that God always picks the last, the least, and the lost to be first in his kingdom by reminding us of a shepherds crook. You can read the story of the shepherds from the Bible here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2%3A8-20&version=ERV
Activities: Tailor your activity to the abilities, interests, and attention spans of your family. You have three choices here, but the opportunities are endless!
- Make candy cane soap to give away: This is an easy activity that really works! Find out how to do it here: http://www.celebrations.com/c/read/how-to-make-homemade-candy-cane-soap
Here is our pic of the finished product:
- Have a candy cane race: I found a bunch of Christmas minute-to-win-it type activities, including a candy cane themed one here: http://krzeilstra.blogspot.com/2013/01/minute-to-win-it-christmas-edition.html?m=1
This sounds really fun! Please let me know in the comment section how it works for you.
- Decorate with cane canes: I know it’s early, but perhaps you might commit as a family to including candy canes as part of your Christmas decorating this year. One of my favorite Christmas centerpieces is also one of the most simple; just candy canes and a vase. Check out the project here: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2010/12/17/christmas-party-planning-candy-cane-arrangement/
Make sure to display this decoration on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. You might even fill it with clementines or oranges, another St. Nicholas symbol, for your breakfast or lunch that day! (You could also just buy a box of candy canes and hang them on your tree; who said it had to be complicated? 🙂 )
Song: Christmas Favorites
When I was a kid, you heard church Christmas songs everywhere: on the radio, in the mall, on television. This is no longer so. I used to be a Christmas hymn purist; no Christmas songs at all until Christmas. This is also no longer so. Our kids will never grow to know and love Christmas hymns about Jesus unless we intentionally listen to and sing them. In that vein, although I know it’s early, I urge you to share your favorite church Christmas song with your kids this week. Can’t think of one off the top of your head? Try this youtube video with a medley of Christmas hymns, mostly sung by children: https://youtu.be/PC67SdKYQ28
You might even use it as background music as you do your activity this week!
Closing Prayer: (You can do this as a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you came to earth on Christmas. Help us to remember that you came to love and save us all. In your name we pray, Amen.