Not so ‘Bah humbug’! says Cas Lester

Nevermind your tree chocolates, or your stripy candy canes, what’s the most famous Christmas sweet of all?

The ‘Bah Humbug’!


Possibly one of the most quoted quotes about Christmas of all time, said by the Charles Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge of course. But what does it mean? What has the humble humbug got to do with Christmas, for crying out loud?


Nothing, as it turns out.

The word ‘humbug’ apparently meant something fraudulent or fake . . . so Scrooge is saying he thinks Christmas – with all its jollity and cheer – is fake.

So, nothing to do with sweets then!

So then I started thinking, why are humbug sweets named after a word meaning ‘fake’? Apparently the word ‘humbug’ also meant a trick or a practical joke and the original ‘humbug’ sweets were minted toffee coating a nut. So they weren’t solid toffee and after you’d sucked away the lovely minty toffee you were left with . . . a boring old nut. What a swizz! ‘Bah, humbug!’

How about candy canes? Why do we hang those on Christmas trees?


There’s a lovely story that a few hundred years ago choirboys were bribed with candy sticks to keep them quiet during the service and that the candy sticks were bent into a crook to represent the shepherds at the nativity. Sadly, the story probably isn’t true.


But what about chocolate tree decorations? Why do we hang brightly wrapped chocolates on our trees?

Well, as far as I can discover, the answer is: ‘Why not?!’ Which seems fair enough to me.

And on that note I’ll wish you all . . . a very Happy Humbug!




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