This morning we helped to lead a Christingle Service for one of our local junior schools. Here’s the text I used to explain about Christingles:
A Christingle is a symbolic object, consisting of:
- an orange representing the world;
- a red ribbon around it representing the love and blood of Jesus;
- dolly mixtures, dried fruits or sweets skewered on cocktail sticks pushed into the orange, representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons; and
- a lit candle pushed into the centre of the orange, representing Jesus Christ as the light of the world.
The base of the candle is commonly wrapped in tinfoil. This is purely functional.
The Christingle has its origins in the Moravian Church, but the representation of the four seasons was a later addition. At Christmas 1747 in Germany, Bishop Johannes de Watteville thought about how he could explain the love of Jesus and what Christmas really means to the children in the church. He decided to make a simple symbol to express the message of Christmas in a fresh and lively way. Pastor Johannes de Watteville gave each child a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon, with a prayer that said “Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these dear children’s hearts”.
In 1968, John Pensom of The Children’s Society introduced Christingle services to the Church of England, where the custom spread quickly. It is celebrated sometime around Christmas.
The story of the Christingle is that there were three children, who were very poor, but wanted to give a gift to Jesus, like the other families at church were doing. The only nice thing they had was an orange, so they decided to give him that. The top was going slightly green, so the eldest cut it out and put a candle in the hole. They thought it looked dull, so the youngest girl took her best red ribbon from her hair and attached it round the middle with toothpicks. The middle child had the idea to put a few pieces of dried fruit on the ends of the sticks. They took it to the church for the Christmas service, and whereas the other children looked down on their inadequate gift, the priest took their gift and showed it as an example of true understanding of the meaning of Christmas.
This Christmas, take a moment to reflect on what you are giving this Christmas.
May our lives and our prayers be like lights shining in dark places.
And may the blessing of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – fill our hearts and homes, with light this Christmas, and in the New Year to come.