A Christingle service is becoming a popular Christian church service held over the Christmas period where a candle in an orange is used as a fun and interactive symbol of Jesus Christ and the positive effect he has had on the world.
The Christingle orange is a striking image at Christmas time. It looks similar to an orange pomander, the orange studded with cloves, which is a popular Christmas decor creation that is sometimes also used to make mulled wine.
We are going to share more about Christingle’s, what it means, and how to make one of your own.
A Christingle is a symbolic object used in Christian services at Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. The word ‘Christingle’ comes from the German word of ‘Chrsitkindl’ which means ‘Little Christ Child’. The Christingle is used to celebrate and symbolic Jesus Christ as the Light of the World.
A Christingle is usually made from an orange with a small candle inserted in the top. There is a red ribbon wrapped around the middle of the orange and some sweets attached via 4 small cocktail sticks.
What is a Christingle service?
A Christingle service is a part of the yearly advent traditions over the Christmas period for some of those in the Church.
The candles in the Christingles are lit to spread light. This reflects the light that Jesus Christ brings to the world, and gives hope to people living in dark times.
The Christingle is usually made by children to help teach them about Jesus. During a service in the church, the lights are dimmed and the children’s Christingle are lit up. It’s a magical and reverential moment when the entire church is lit with the glow of the Christingles.
Each service is different but usually involves singing some hymns along with readings from the Nativity story from the bible. Some churches bring the children together to perform some hymns at the front of the church. And of course, there is prayer. It really is a lovely service.
Who invented Christingle?
The Christingle tradition was started in Germany in 1747 by a Moravian bishop called Johannes de Watteville.
Initially 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 to the children of his church. He gave all the children a Christingle and from that day it became a tradition.
A modern Christingle service became popular in the UK in 1968 with John Pensom of the Children’s Society. A Christingle service was held at Lincoln Cathedral that year using the modern version of a Christingle. Children would bring some money and in exchange, they would receive their Christingle.
The Children’s Society continues to host and support Chrstingle services as part of its fundraising efforts.
What does a Christingle symbolise?
The meaning of a Christingle is simple. It 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.
Orange – the world
Candle – the light that Jesus brings to the world
Red ribbon – the love and blood of Jesus Christ
Four cocktail sticks – the four seasons or the four directions of North, South, East, and West
Sweets – God’s creations, the ‘fruits’ of the earth
The Christingle as a whole is meant to show Jesus being the light of the world. Christingle translates to ‘Christ Light.’ The Christingle service meaning is all about celebrating Jesus Christ.
What happens at a Christingle service?
The service has children in mind. Sometimes the children bring a little bit of money to buy a prepared Christingle – and this money is part of the fundraising for charity.
Or the children make and present their Christingle candle.
Joyful Christmas songs are sung 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.
More hymns might be performed by groups of children. Some churches do readings of the Nativity story from the bible. And of course, all Christingle services will say a prayer in reverence of Jesus Christ.
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.
When should a Christingle service be held?
A Christingle service typically takes place between Advent Sunday (which is four weeks before Christmas) and Candlemas (2nd February). The majority of churches hold their Christingle service on Christmas Eve – 24th December.
How to make 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?
Christingle candle tips and ideas
Make the Christingle church service extra special with festive fun. You could host a mince pie table at the end of the service. Perhaps have a Christingle drawing table for the children to colour in.
Some churches such as Chelmsford Cathedral use glowsticks instead of candles in the Christingle.
Using a square of foil acts as drip shield to protect the Christingle and the hands holding it from any wax drips from the candle.