Each year, Hallmark produces a non-edible version of the many delicious Christmas cupcakes we see this time of year. The ornament above is the 13th in the Christmas Cupcake series and features a red and white, peppermint themed confection, decorated with a mini candy cane and peppermint bits.
Just about everyone these days is familiar with the symbol of the candy cane. We've all heard the story of how a European candymaker, somewhere back in the mists of time, wanted to teach the children in his village about the true meaning of Christmas, so he created a red and white striped candy cane. Turned one way, the candy cane resembles a shepherd's staff, with the hook on the top for encircling wayward or trapped sheep, to draw them back into the fold. This is a reference to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Turned the other way, the candy cane looks like a large letter "J," the initial for Jesus in several languages, though not all.
As the story goes, the red stripes on the candy cane symbolize Jesus' martyrdom, as Scripture reminds us "by his stripes we were saved," while the white stripes point to holiness through cleansing, through purification, which begins with baptism and then continues as we grow in relationship with God, especially through prayer and participation in the sacraments.
Peppermint oil itself is known for its healing properties. It is used as a folk remedy for upset stomachs, as well as to treat colds and headaches. Additionally, it has a pleasant, uplifting scent and can be used topically as well as ingested. All in all, it is very useful and we can see why peppermint became associated with Christmas and Christ, who himself is the great Healer of what ails us, inside and out.
As we journey through Advent, the candy cane, and peppermint in general, can remind us to ask ourselves - where do I need healing? Where do I need cleansing? We will find both healing and cleansing in the manger on Christmas morn.
This blog page is a slightly different type of Advent calendar. Using ornaments, Scripture and poetry for reflection, we journey through the 28 days of Advent 2022 to Christmas morning, and the Incarnation of Christ.