Candy Canes
Manchester Elementary principal Jennifer Sinclair has since been placed on leave after widespread community backlash to the new policy.

An elementary school principal in Nebraska has landed in hot water after sending out a Christmas memo that included a list of items that would be considered unacceptable during the holidays. The memo explained that the school's goal was to create an environment that was inclusive and would make every student feel comfortable.

Among the various Christmas-themed items on the list, one entry in particular raised some eyebrows: candy canes. Principal Jennifer Sinclair claimed the 'J' shape of the popular holiday treat stands for Jesus, therefore making it an unacceptable endorsement of religion in the classroom.

The memo's full "banned items" list (including the principal's commentary) is shown below:

  • Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets

  • Christmas trees in classrooms

  • Elf on the Shelf - that's Christmas-related

  • Singing Christmas Carols

  • Playing Christmas music

  • Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book - that's Christmas-related

  • Making a Christmas ornament as a gift - This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, 'Well they can just hang it somewhere else.'

  • Candy Cane - that's Christmas-related. Historically, the shape is a 'J' for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.

  • Red/Green items - traditional Christmas colors

  • Reindeer

  • Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies" (emphasis added)

Items that were considered acceptable included snowflakes, sledding, hot chocolate, and polar bears.

Things Fall Apart

The memo was quickly spread online, where it was noticed by Christian advocacy group Liberty Counsel. The group sent a request to the school demanding the policy be changed, and alerted the community about its concerns. As calls came pouring in from concerned parents, the district responded by placing Sinclair on leave and explaining that her rules "do not reflect district policy."

Related: How Should You Respond to "Merry Christmas" If You Don't Celebrate?

The incident becomes the latest point of controversy in an ongoing debate over how to handle Christmas traditions in public schools. Keeping faith and education separate seems a relatively manageable task during most of the calendar year, but Christmas-time proves an exceptional challenge. Given that the religious holiday is so deeply embedded in our culture, schools routinely struggle to draw a line that keeps everyone happy.

What do you think, did the principal go too far? Are candy canes really a secret symbol of Christianity?



  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    This will be very interesting to see where this topic goes. She's okay with snowflakes though. LOL

    Separation from Church and State, anyone?

    1. Hank Stanco's Avatar Hank Stanco

      Hmm. Can you show me where in the constitution a separation of church and state is delineated?

      1. Quasi's Avatar Quasi

        Amendment 1, the Establishment Clause.

    2. Mary Benoit's Avatar Mary Benoit

      There are many spiritual traditions celebrated this time of year. Maybe we should understand and celebrate ALL of them, candy canes and candles. As long as we get Christmas as a holiday we should know why

      1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        In my entire life have I ever thought of a candy cane as Jesus. When you hang a candy cane on the tree, does it look like a "J", or on the front door, and even when the stores packaging displays the ornaments the CCane is in a hanging position. This person obviously hates all religious beliefs or is an atheist. The sad truth is that when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ descends from heaven every eye will see him. At that point it will be to late to come to Jesus. He will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you". It doesn't matter if people believe in Jesus or not, he believes in you and all will be judged. I pray that any of you that reads this comment asks Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior and repent your sins and talk to Jesus every day. Read your Bible and follow God's laws, the 10 Commandments every day. It's that easy to be saved. I don't know about anyone else, but I want to be kick'in it with Jesus and my Almighty father on the beach just surfing and chillin How about you. Enjoy eternity with Jesus or eternal torment with Satan and his demons.. It's a no brainer... God bless everyone and Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

    3. Carmela's Avatar Carmela

      i think the principal should lighten up. its just candy first of all. if you insist on analyzing , its the cane saint nocholas used. Rev. Carmela MA

      1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        Thanks for the truth. Merry Christmas and Happy new year. God bless you and your family

  1. Ruth's Avatar Ruth

    This is unbelievable, who are this people accommodating?! Muslims? Jews and other religions have lived in this country for many years, always respecting each other believes. Are we willing to accommodate to the hard discrimination of new comers? Please let’s stand our ground, in this country we respect each other’s believes.

    1. Hank Stanco's Avatar Hank Stanco

      The Jewish religion has always been respected? What America do you live in?

    2. Janice A Ellery's Avatar Janice A Ellery

      Read the story. This woman did this on her own. She was not authorized by her school district to send this bizzare memo.

      1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        She is anti-american and pushing her beliefs and opinions on our school children. Wrong in every sense of the word. Same goes with our public servents, judges, police, and many others that forgot the pledge that they took upholding the constitution. Many are stepping all over it. Civil War is coming we the people will not stand for committing crimes against the Constitution and our God given rights. The rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and the right to bare arms. Faith is the only thing that they can't take away, don't let the globalists make a one world order, if that happens, Jesus will come down from the heavens and every eye will see him.

        1. The Doctor's Avatar The Doctor

          Ah I see your one of those that use globalist as a negative likely directed at the so called jewish conspiracy or whatever nut jobslike you and john owens are always blathering on about.

          Also the whole civil war is coming rant, typical intimidating tactic, the you best side with us or die attitude.

          Do I think candy canes or their shape are a big deal? nope do I think this person stirring the pot is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Yeah more or less.

          Is it wrong for a teacher to question if something from the archaic practice of this holiday is itself intruding upon the line between church and state? Nope as Jesus himself was said to of done with rabbis as a child, he questioned anything and everything and had to satisfy his mind by exploring things for himself.

          Be he man or more, he certainly sounded like a bright kid to know not to trust adults just because.

          1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

            You have never read any reference to any jewish conspiracy in anything I have written, so YOU are the one "always blathering on."

  1. Raymond T. Cottrell's Avatar Raymond T. Cottrell

    I celebrate all holidays in my classroom. I have a tree, menorah, kinara, etc. - all faiths and cultures represented during their respective times of the year. I was criticized one time - and I said I would be more than happy to become the case that will once and for all determine whether holidays are represented in public schools - I have lawyers and the money at my disposal to go as far an needed. I was never criticized again.

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      Call it what you will, it's fun to have something to celebrate. We could call it Mary Got Screwed By The Holy Spirit Day. .

  1. Kirk's Avatar Kirk

    Christmas is a national holiday. Not something one individual can dismiss.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I doubt anyone disagrees with you, the issue here is with this person not allowing certain items to be on display, that she deems to be of a religious nature, in a public school, funded by the state?

      1. Janice A Ellery's Avatar Janice A Ellery

        How can certain colors be considered religious items? Next she will want to ban blue and stars because they might be considered jewish? Nature items like stones or plants that might be wicca or new age? This is about a public school authority taking an extreme bizzare stance that sounds like paranoia or some conspiracy theory. She also clearly went way beyond any authority the school system gave her. I would question this woman's mental stability to work with children.


        She is the main cause of the entire situation. Her personal beliefs that she carried over into the school system, which were ridicious to begin with, got on the main stream and brought to light. She should of kept her personal opinions to herself. This country is being tore apart in so many directions. We need more unity, not people causing more division.

      3. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        I agree with you, but as a child growing up,, I don't remember my mother ever saying that the candy cane stands for Jesus. But that's just my life. May God bless you this time of year and Merry Christmas and Happy new year

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    I just have to say, Christmas turns my stomach, because there is so much myth and hype and mixed up traditions, pagan and secular. Still, I don't get offended by others observing it. It has been around a lot longer than I have and I am reasonably sure I'll be gone long before it is. I was raised observing Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Christ. I now know certain aspects of it predate Christianity by thousands of years, and no one is certain of the day of His birth, there is no scripture that says there were three astrologers or wise men, and they did not arrive on the night of His birth, and blah blah blah. The preachers read the story INTO the gospels and do not read it FROM the gospels.

    However, I never EVER thought the candy cane represented the J for Joshua or Jesus, but the crook was there so it could be hung on the small branches of the Nimrod tree as a decoration. This pea-brained principal in this story just went so far overboard the Coast Guard gave up the search for her. The candy cane is one of the few good things about the Winter Solstice celebration of the Saturnalia. That, and the Porky Pig version of Elvis' Blue Christmas. That is the only Christmas song I like. The Little Drummer Boy makes me want to jam pencils in my ears, it is so stupid, but I LIKE the candy canes.

    1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

      I like candy canes, and spiked eggnog too. Then there was Grandma Rose's cherry brandy drenched fruitcake. If we didn't have Christmas to celebrate there is so very much we would not have had, regardless of the reason for it. And there are a lot of pretty girls who never would have kissed us if we hadn't caught them standing under the mistletoe. Regardless of religious affiliation we've all done it, and had a good time doing it too. Anyone who says "Bah humbug" should be pressed into a book by Charles Dickens like a butterfly. And my favorite Christmas CD is called Twisted Christmas. I've got that one sitting next to Luciano Pavarotti's Oh Holy Night CD. I especially like hearing him sing Sanctus, from the Requiem, accompanied by the Wandsworth Boys Choir, and also Ave Maria, in Italian, even though I'm Wiccan, and celebrate Yule. Christmastime is my favorite time of the year. Merry Christmas, and Blessed be !!!

    2. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach


      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens


    3. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Epilogue: I just heard ONE more Christmas song that I love:


      So, that makes two, out of so many that I do not think just suck.

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

        I should have worded this differently, since you cannot hear my verbal inflection. That last sentence should read, "So, out of so many, that makes two that I do not think just suck."

  1. Pastor Dsve's Avatar Pastor Dsve

    That's just crazy

  1. Gary Hynous's Avatar Gary Hynous

    Candy canes do not represent Jesus or Christianity. This not only petty and wrong, it's just another form of suppression. It took me growing up to realize that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and also about a time to celebrate with friends and family. many traditions celebrate Christmas differently and some don't even call it Christmas. We need to be less critical of each other's way of celebrating this holiday, relax and enjoy the overall spirit of the season.

  1. Beth K's Avatar Beth K

    As a non-Christian who supports freedom of religion and separation of Church and State, I think this goes too far. Yes, certainly no religious things, but Candy Canes, Santa, singing Christmas carols, and such are part of US culture. Red and green are part of the color wheel - they're not religious in nature.

  1. Janice A Ellery's Avatar Janice A Ellery

    This principal's thoughts are so bizzare this may represent mental illness and paranoia. Banning colors and candy that might look like a letter j? I agree pastor dave, this principal should have a mental health evaluation.

  1. Dwayne Crandall's Avatar Dwayne Crandall

    Tell her she's eating them upside down. lol

  1. Maiane santo santos's Avatar Maiane santo santos

    I had to look at the date to make sure it wasn't april 1st, but nope it isn't, it's december 7th, guess what happened 77 years ago, the start of a fight to stop one sided thinking that made no sense to rational people, this woman is nuts, but then again look at the brouhaha that developed over a song that was a hit after the war, the "baby its cold outside" sabre rattling is just another sign the PC pendulum is swinging way way off center.

  1. Jim's Avatar Jim

    Every time I think I have heard or seen it all I get truly amazed at the ignorance that has taken hold in this country.

    1. Maiane santo santos's Avatar Maiane santo santos


  1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

    Is there any problem with discussing the historical references and reasons for current traditions? I find the pagan influence in Christian holidays to be very interesting.

    I understand that some Texas schools won't teach evolution or global warming. I recently heard these schools are removing references to the first female nominee of the Democrat party to run for President of the United States.

    Time to find a Yule log on the fire.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I agree. Children should be taught “how to think” and not “what to think”. Teach them to understand different cultures and the way others think. Teach them how to find data to do their own research to formulate their own opinions.

      1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        Now that's the best reply yet. Revamping the school system just like that.. You should be the director of education for the President. God bless you and your family this holiday season and Merry Christmas

  1. Maiane santo santos's Avatar Maiane santo santos

    One thing, never attribute to malice which can be explained by stupidity, just sayin, she may be a principal, but her head ain’t right.

    1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

      The public school's definitely need to stop the globalists indoctrination of our children and let the truth come out. Did you know that the national I.Q. Average has dropped 4 to 6 points of our children.. The school system that's in place has to change or our children will be the ones that suffer.

  1. Ed's Avatar Ed

    That principal was removed from that position last night!

    1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

      The Lord works in mysterious ways. God bless you, Merry Christmas and Happy new year

      1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

        He certainly does! Condoning stoning, slavery, killing the first born child, and sending plagues because he was angry with the Pharaoh, and drowning every man, woman and child on the face of the earth, apart from one family led by a drunkard, is indeed very mysterious.

        This teacher didn’t do any of these things, not that I agree with her, but she’s getting chastised for her decisions, yet the “mysterious” ways of a god not only seem to be acceptable, but are even worth worshipping.

        As I see it, he’s more crazy than this teacher, at least she hasn’t killed anyone.

        1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

          May God have mercy on your soul as you will stand in judgment. It doesn't matter if you believe in God or not. The Lord of Lord's, The King of Kings is coming and when he desends from Heaven, every eye will see Him.!!! There is no escape from your sins except through Jesus Christ the King of Kings.

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            So I take it you are happy with your gods decisions as listed in the Old Testament? Not me! His infanticide is beyond acceptable. A god working in mysterious ways killing almost everyone on the face of the earth due to his anger management issue will never be any god of mine worthy of worship. His sins are far worse than mine will ever be. He is no Lord of lords or king of kings. He’s pathetic in my book, but each to their own I guess if you really want to believe it.

            Happy holidays though.

            May our moral decisions during this festive time be better than your gods and be one of true love for all of mankind.

  1. torro's Avatar torro

    This creature should be banned from ever venturing into another school again. This has always been a Christian country and people seem to have forgotten why Christmas is celebrated. A few store so called business people jumped on the greed wagon, now everyone is infected. Grow up you fools and get a life.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I’m sure you are right that the majority of the people in the United States have had leanings towards Christianity, however, there is now a definite shift away from Christianity towards secularism, as people become more educated. Some possibly move towards other spiritual beliefs as they search for having a better, and more meaningful, life, so it’s possible this country might not always be a Christian country as time marches on.

      The creature that you refer to is of course another human being, and possibly a US citizen, much like yourself, but with a possible leaning towards a different belief structure. Isn't it interesting how diverse we all are here in the United States?

  1. Lea Weisenbach's Avatar Lea Weisenbach

    The Winter solstice..Yule not all about Christ. As we know through history people were forced to be Christian..So of course this is what the majority know. But we have come to a time that we can question and not get charged with heresy. So we know now that its not just a Christian holiday. The problem lies in the fact that Christians think its just their holiday and don't want to share. So when one sides whines that there's a war on Christmas..And the other side is sick of the Christians not respecting others beliefs..Its this America??? Schools should be teaching kids to think not remember lies.. Kids just see candy that can hook on a tree..Just another stupid person.

  1. Rev. TomHenry's Avatar Rev. TomHenry

    I never thought of the candy cane as a symbol of Jesus, it was just a cane. The J, the red and white symbolizing the blood and ascension. I love it! More candy canes for everyone!

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    God bless you and your family this holiday season.

  1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

    Respectfully, the fact that a Christian group was upset tends to validate the position of the principal, as long as there is equal exclusion of all religions...Christmas should not be a holiday, anyway...America should be more like the ULC, not the Vatican and its progeny...Peace...Tom

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    There's a sentence in the 1st Amendment called, the freedom of religion. Christians have the right to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ our lord and savior. Christmas is more for the children, but as adults it's our love and praise for the birth of Jesus christ the Messiah The only begotten son of God. The Lord of Lord's , the King of of Kings. And the heaven's and earth will be shaken like none before it, and Jesus will desend from heaven and every eye will see Him.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Thank you for your thoughts, and indoctrinated statements. Christians do of course have the right to celebrate whatever they want, just as all other mythical religions, like yours, have the right to celebrate theirs, and that of course involves pagans celebrating this wonderful holiday time.

      Have a wonderful festive time, and may Santa Clause be very kind to you.

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    May God have mercy on your soul. It won't matter if you believe in Jesus Christ or not God believes in you and all will stand in judgment. If your not in the book of life.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      May your god have mercy on his own soul, and I certainly hope he’s repentant of some of the stupid decisions he’s made throughout the history of mankind, because so far, some of his decisions have been nothing short of pathetic.

      There’s no way I would ever want anyone judging me who is not capable of having a loving heart for mankind. Your god is way beyond the capability of that, judging from some of the atrocities he’s been responsible for.

      Hopefully, if there is a god, it’s female and not male. I’m sure a goddess would make a far better job of it.

      1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

        The God of creator is neither male or female. God is the source for everything. God Created us for a purpose, it's up to you to find out what your purpose is. God's law is not burdensome. Only 10 laws to follow. A lot simpler than humanity's laws.

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          It’s a pity he, she, or it, couldn’t abide by its own 10 laws.

          In the meantime, please show me where you get your logic from being as HE showed HIMSELF to Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Samuel, David, Peter, and presumably Mary, being as he got her in the family way. And, if your Jesus is the son of God, and we are supposed to be made in HIS image, your logic isn’t making any sense.

          I’m glad you suggested it’s up to me to find out about my purpose in life, and I believe I’ve found it. It’s to use my brain, and remove any form of religiously indoctrinated dogma from it, and declare that no god exists.

          Additionally, I will show more love to my fellow man than I’ve ever read about any god, being as they all seem to struggle with showing true love. I certainly will never condone stoning anyone to death, or condone slavery, like your god does. Your god seems to have major anger management issues.

          Have a wonderful festive season. I hope Santa Clause is good to you.

          1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

            It doesn't matter if you believe in God or not , God believes in you and that judgment in the end could have been avoided. With a simple prayer and a relationship with Jesus Christ Happy holidays.

          2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            I don’t need a relationship with any mythical god, or even a mythical son of god. I prefer a “real” relationship, such as the one I have with my wife. She gives me more love than your mythical deities can ever do.

            Keep believing in your pie-in-the-sky murderous deity if it helps you get through life. Your fictional horrific story book isn’t for me.

          3. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

            Good luck at the FEMA Death camps !!

  1. Jim Jones's Avatar Jim Jones

    "A bonny Brumalia, a super Saturnalia and a jolly Juvenalia."

    Christmas Isn’t Christian: The Pagan Roots of The Winter Holiday

  1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

    Do hang down like a J?, do candy canes hang on the tree upside down?, do candy canes sit in a jar looking like a J? No they don't. This principle is anti-Christian and pushing beliefs on our children. I would immediately take my child out of this school just because my family are Christians but never taught our daughter that a candy cane means Jesus . Its just a candy cane to ornimate the household..

  1. Rowland Barkley's Avatar Rowland Barkley

    Candy canes are shaped like canes. If they were shapes like "J", then they would be called "Candy Jays." The teacher needs to go back to elementary school, and learn the letters of the alphabet, She also needs to learn that the only letters that stand for a word, are one word letters, such as "I". Basic illiteracy on the part of a teacher has nothing to do with religion.

    1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      I agree, Rowland. Good comment.

  1. angel's Avatar angel

    More idiotic liberals!

  1. Frank Villari's Avatar Frank Villari

    The League of the Perpetually Offended will never be satisfied until there is no one left but them, at which point they will begin to feed upon themselves until the last one commits suicide having realized their own offensive acts. Very sad.

    1. Minister Post's Avatar Minister Post

      Very wise deduction. I agree completely. Merry Christmas and Happy new year

  1. Kitty's Avatar Kitty

    I enjoyed each person’s opinion on this issue and thanks for sharing everyone. I can appreciate the woman who has decided to celebrate all religions she can think of during the season. Promoting young people (or any people) to discuss what is held close to their hearts opens human connection and breeds compassion. Let each of us remember: no matter the name by which we call God, or traditional backgrounds and cultures we come from; the One Infinate Source - that which is beyond name and form - lives in us and we are all one. Like God addressing the hearts of followers by inspiring speech and action through our church leaders (when they can quiet the human mind enough to hear); also throughout history have disciples and kings chosen through Divine Inspiration the words to be included in the Bible and Earths holy books. All we encounter is “of God”. Even the one called satan is and was of God. How are we to learn if we scoff at the challenges set before us instead of responding by intense love, compassion, and contemplation. Blessed is EVERY path as each of those will one day lead us to back to unity with Pure Source. As we begin the New Year, may we remember we reap what we sow. Let us sow the new year with deep respect for every human: regardless of how they honor God, cultural, and traditions. Seek to understand - seek to educate - seek to love - seek 4ever.

    1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

      Kitty...True; and very well written...Peace...Tom

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Oh joy!

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