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Christingle

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This is to explain to those who do not hold a Christingle service in their village what it represents….
Recalling the Meaning of Christmas: The Christingle Celebration

by Liz Hearn

In 1749 in a church in Germany a Bishop started a Christmas tradition that is loved by children and adults, and enjoyed in Britain today and around the world. His name was Bishop John de Watteville and he led worship among the Moravian Congregation in Marienborn, Germany. He was the creator of the Christingle service. Christingle means “Christ-Light.”

When the children are all charged up with energy about nativity plays, gifts and shopping, Santa Claus and parties the Christingle service is a nice way to remind them of the bigger picture of who this new baby Jesus is and what he came to do. The simple candle service that John de Watteville introduced showed children then, as it does now, that through the gift of a lighted candle we can remember that this baby Jesus brought light into darkness and through the looped red ribbon that Jesus shed his blood and died for our salvation. The Christingle has developed over the last 250 years from a simple white candle to the Christingle that is made today.

There is something special about an evening service for children. The church is decorated for Christmas and the cold and dark in the church makes the experience especially atmospheric. The service is based around explaining the symbolism in the Christingle and as each part in explained the Christingles are assembled. When all is assembled the lights in the church are dimmed and the candles lighted. Each child is given a Christingle candle to take home with them. The candle light on the excited children’s faces is a beautiful sight. In John de Watteville’s day it is recorded that the children tried to keep their candles alight the whole way home.

The use of the service was spread throughout the world by the Moravian church and has been celebrated in many countries including the USA. In 1968 the Christingle Service was brought to the Anglican Church of England, its use promoted by The Children’s Society. This charity works in the UK with children at risk of homelessness on the streets, disabled children, children in trouble with the law, and young refugees. The Society encourages churches and community groups to have a Christingle service and the donated offering is often given to the Children’s Society to support their children’s work throughout the year. They also have a website where Christingle services that are planned can be registered. If you are looking for a service near you, this is one great way to find where and when they are happening all over the United Kingdom. The service was created on 20th December 1749 and it is now often the service held the last Sunday evening before Christmas or on Christmas Eve.

How to make a Christingle

A sweet, juicy, shiny orange represents the goodness of the earth that God created.

Four sticks (cocktail sticks or tooth picks) are put into four corners of the top side of the orange. These represent the four seasons of the year.

Onto each stick is threaded dried fruit like sultanas or raisins. This represents all the goodness of the fruit of the earth and the richness of animals and birds that God has provided on his earth. Sometimes we use small jelly sweets or candy.

A red ribbon wrapped around the orange and fixed in place with a pin represents the blood of Jesus who died for the salvation of the whole world. In the Moravian tradition today a ribbon is looped around a candle at its base.

The white candle is placed in the very top of the orange into a pre-prepared hole. Sometimes some foil is used to help fix the candle into position. This candle represents Jesus, the light of the world, God’s son. In the Moravian tradition it would be made from beeswax and would also represent Christ’s purity, as this type of candle burns cleanly.
A modern British Christmas is secular in so many ways. Putting the “Christ” back into Christmas is an important part of the history of this festival period in England. Christianity might not be your thing; however, everyone is welcome to witness and take part in this traditional service.

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Comments

 

Simply lovely Hb. have only ever been to one of these but remember how charming it was. Thanks for the reminder.

9 Dec, 2012

 

I have been this afternoon and its such a pleasure to see the church so full of children. I love to see them eager to place the animals and figures into the manger. By the time the service is coming to an end the manger is crammed full of figures and animals. The sweets are nearly always eaten from the orange before they head home, well mine is...lol and a lot of the tiny ones have eaten the orange too....

9 Dec, 2012

 

Hb. I think that's priceless!! Shame on you eating the sweets though Lol !! Brilliant.

9 Dec, 2012

 

Thank you for explaining this tradition so well. I have always liked the idea of Christingle but never fully understood it.
Candles, orange, cloves and little sweets - perfect!

9 Dec, 2012

 

We have to save my Mothers Christingle for Christmas day to put on the center of the table and light it at dinner time. By then the orange is a bit dry and so are the fruit and sweets.....doesn't stop the g.children eating them though..

9 Dec, 2012

 

I have never been but had heard of it, thankyou for explaining the meaning, it sounds a delightful service and one well worth experiencing.........

9 Dec, 2012

 

Thanks for that , Hb , we went to a "secular " Carols and songs this p.m. ; it was joyless and we were so disappointed that we left half-way through . (And there was a fee !)
I have been going to the candle-lit sevice at our Parish Church for years and it has never been explained that it was part of a Christingle celebration .
It is good for the little ones to be reminded of what Christmas is all about , commercialism has so much to answer for .

9 Dec, 2012

 

It is Lincs, such a happy service.
So sorry to hear that Driad it makes you wonder who is the misery who organises these things and thinks they are good. The children love it when most of the church lights are turned off and they can stand and sing a carol with their candles lit. I like it too. We have a candlelight service on Christmas eve at 11pm. with T-lights lit all around the pillars and on the window sills. It looks so nice. Difficult to read the words on the carol sheet though when they turn off the lights..lol

9 Dec, 2012

 

Thank you for the explanation of this Service. I never understood it before, but will go along in future and enjoy. It makes turning out in the cold worth while.

Driad, in no Church are you required to pay a fee. Just giving a little helps.

10 Dec, 2012

 

This blog brought back many happy memories of preparing for Christmas with my classes. It was lovely to see the joy in each child's face as their Christingle took form and to know that the symbolism was simple enough for all to understand. The service was also a lovely way to share Christmas with the children and their parents, much more meaningful than the more common end of term Carol Concert. Gosh, how I miss this days!

10 Dec, 2012

 

Hb , being of the"old faith " midnight Mass has been known to go on until nearly 2a.m. ! The last time that it happened nearly finished us all , and we now go at 10.30a.m.
Yes it is hard going trying to read subsequent 79 verses of some carols in the flickering candle- light .
Diane , this wasn't in a church , and I would have been willing to give it to the church instead .

10 Dec, 2012

 

What a wonderful blog Homebird,it is nice to be reminded what Christmas is all about,it is a few years since I was at midnight mass, but this year I will be there as it can make you feel so good in yourself.

10 Dec, 2012

 

I was told about Christingle by my grandaughter, both her and her brother went to this service with their guide and scout packs, my daughter also went along and found it very moving :)

13 Dec, 2012

 

That was very interesting. I might try making one :o)

14 Dec, 2012

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