Christingle services are a popular Christmas tradition, usually held between late November and Christmas in Churches and Schools around the UK. Familiar carols are often sung whilst the children’s orange creations are lit, and readings are read.
The symbolism in the traditional Christingle highlights different important parts of the Christian story of Jesus. The orange represents the earth, a candle is pushed into the orange and this represents Jesus as the “light of the world”. The red ribbon tied around the orange represents the blood of Jesus and the fruits pushed onto cocktail sticks represent the goodness of Jesus to his people.
The Christingle tradition can be traced back to a 1747 and a German Bishop Johannes de Watteville. The Bishop was looking for a simple way to show the happiness that Jesus brought to people and did this using a candle with a red ruff. The Christingle was then popularised in the UK by John Pensom in 1948 at Lincoln Cathedral who was, at the time, raising funds for The Children’s Society.
The Children’s Society is a charity which works to support vulnerable young people and children in the UK. Their work includes supporting young carers, refugee children, exploited children, children in poverty and many more. They do this by providing services directly to children, lobbying government and researching issues which affect vulnerable children.
In 1970 the Christingle service was held in 20 churches in the UK, all raising money for the Children’s Society and by 1980 the first Christingle service was held in Westminster abbey. In 1986 the word ‘Christingle’ first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Children’s society estimate that in 2003 1 million people attended a Christingle service in the UK. 2018 marked 50 years of the Christingle and Schools and Churches up and down the country celebrated the tradition with the Children’s society.
It’s great to see the Christingle tradition still flourishing, we’ve even seen some imaginative new trends! Christingle cake and Christingle marmalade recipes are easy to find with a quick internet search, and health and safety regulations have seen some venues replace their candles with glow sticks! We’d love to hear if you have any new Christingle traditions to add to our list.
If you’re putting on a Christingle service this year, why not use a song to help explain the symbolism to the Children? Hope of Heaven (Christingle Song) was specially written by Mark & Helen Johnson and covers each part of the Christingle in a way that’s easy for children (and adults!) to understand.
Click here for more all age worship songs.
Written by: Hannah Rayson