Monday 20 December 2010


It's gradually beginning to feel like Christmas is approaching. I'm typing this on Sunday afternoon and this evening will be our annual Carol Service, while this morning, we had our family Christingle.

My newly constructed Christingle has been added to the decorations in my living room and I will be burning the candle regularly, to get the benefit before the orange begins to decay.

The word Christingle is thought to originate from the German Christkindl meaning ‘Christ-child', although some sources translate it rather as 'Christ's fire'.

The practice of the Christingle service originated in the Moravian church in Germany in 1747, when Bishop Johannes de Watteville wrapped candles in red ribbon and gave them to the children of the church as a way of symbolising the love of Christ for them. Since then, Christingles have developed a little and the celebration has become more widespread. It was first introduced to the Anglican church in 1968 as a service to support The Children's Society, and quickly became part of the Christmas tradition in many churches, usually on this 4th Sunday in Advent. It isn't confined to churches though. It's not unusual for Christingles to be made in schools or community groups and I've just been told of a cafe where they are being made in a craft session as I type.

The heart of the Christingle is an orange, which represents the world. Wrapped around the world is a red ribbon, symbolising the blood of Jesus and making clear the link between Christmas and Easter; birth and death. Around the orange are four cocktail sticks, onto which are skewered either sweets or dried fruit. These symbolise the fruits of the world and the provision of God in all aspects of life. The four sticks can also represent the four seasons which cycle through the year in our temperate climate.

Finally is the candle which represents Jesus, the light of the world:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
John ch 1 v 9

All that is left is the silver foil which is interpreted variously; possibly just to catch the drips or possibly representing humankind.

It's a really good fun service for all ages and it was lovely to see all of the lit Christingles in church as we passed around the light, though I suspect our minister was slightly on edge at the thought of all those naked flames! Glad I wasn't in charge :)


  1. What a lovely tradition! This is the first time I've heard of it - just goes to show, you're never too old to learn :)

    Thank you for sharing your Christingles with us!

  2. What an interesting tradition. I've been hearing about a lot of traditions this year. More than I had ever heard of before.

  3. I haven't done this tradition since I was at primary school and attended St.Lukes..such a shame coz it's a great tradition. Fanx 4 sharing what it all means :)

  4. What a wonderful tradition and one I have never heard of which is surprising because I "thought" I knew all the German Christmas traditions. Thank you for sharing this, Nan