Christingle service seems to be just another holiday tradition. But have you thought more about the candle-stuffed-orange the children in your life sometimes bring back from school? Or the festive church service? Let’s explore the history behind the Christmas tradition.
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Why do we celebrate Christingle?
Christingle service is a part of the yearly advent traditions that people take part in leading up to Christmas. The Christingle light is usually made by children to teach them about Jesus. Therefore, it is a Christian tradition but actually making a Christingle is fun for all.
What do you need for a Christingle?
To make a Christingle all you need is an orange, a candle, a ribbon, some cocktail sticks and sweets or fruits.
The orange is the base for the Christingle. You insert the candle into a hole cut into the top of the orange. You can put foil around the hole to make it less messy – there will be some juice when you first cut the orange.
A red ribbon should be tied or stuck down around the orange and the fruit/ sweets should be stuck into the orange in four different directions with cocktail sticks.
Some churches prefer to use glow sticks instead of candles for safety reasons. Which is probably wise, who wants to let children wander around with lit candles?
Who invented Christingle?
The tradition started in Germany in 1747 by a bishop called Johannes de Watteville. Back then the Christingle was just a simple candle with a red ribbon around it. For Watteville, it was a simple way to explain the effect of Jesus dying to the children of his church. He gave all the children a Christingle and from that day it became a tradition.
A modern Christingle was introduced to the Church of England in 1968 by John Pensom of the Children’s society held at Lincoln Cathedral.
Pensom encouraged children to make their Christingle the way we now recognise one. It was made to fundraise, which it still does.
What does a Christingle symbolise?
A Christingle is a symbolic object that represents Jesus and the light he brings to the world through the Christian faith.
The orange represents the world. The blood of Christ is represented by the red ribbon around the orange. The sweets/ fruit stuck into the orange with cocktail sticks are meant to show the four seasons as well as the fruits of the earth in substance.
The Christingle as a whole is meant to show Jesus being the light of the world in the Christian text. Christingle literally translates to ‘Christ Light.’
What happens at a Christingle service?
The service has children in mind. The children all make and present their Christingle and songs are sang in the dark with the only light coming from the candles on the oranges. This service tends to be an evening one so that the candles can be really effective and atmospheric.
Although Christingle is to help children understand Jesus, adults are also encouraged to participate in the service by carrying their own Christingle.
Even though this is a traditionally Christian ceremony, making a Christingle can be a fun family activity and the Christingles can be used as a fun mostly edible decoration for the festive period.