Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Traditions: Christingle

One memory I have from my childhood Christmases in England is something which might sound like a strange word to the Americans reading this and perhaps a distant memory to some older British readers - Christingle. It means 'Christ Light' and what it refers to is an old tradition, often done with children, which has the magic of a candle light service but even richer with significance.


A Christingle is a symbolically decorated candle consisting of an orange, a candle, a red ribbon, four cocktail sticks and some fruit or raw vegetables. Sometimes it also includes a white ribbon.

The orange represents the world into which the light of the world came (the candle). The red ribbon is a symbol of Christ's blood (the white ribbon can be used as a symbol of purity). The four cocktail sticks symbolise the four seasons over which God reigns and the pieces of fruit or veg - God's blessings to us.

At a time of year when many people, especially Christians, find that their celebrations lack any real meaning I thought I would mention this tradition which is an old Moravian practise which seems now most commonly practised in the Church of England.

That link does a good job of describing things but I'll throw in how we used to do it. Usually the service would involved the children who had a craft time before the service. During that time they would put the Christingles together and be taught the significance of the candle they were making. Then afterwards the service would be held, the Christingles lit and the lights put out. Songs would be sung, some of God's word read and then a blessing would be given. Alternatively a message could be given during the service utilising the symbolism of the Christingle.

I used to love the smell of the oranges and the light of the candles along with all that wonderful Christmas music and fellowship. The wonderful thing is there are no hard and fast rules, each group, church or family can use the Christingle to hold whatever kind of 'service' they please. I hope this year to bring it to my new friends and family here and if the same sounds good to you then this was worthwhile and and my joy is increased!

Have a wonderful Christmas, may all who read this and those you be blessed, may you be a blessing and in us all may God be glorified.


Instructions below:

To make one Christingle you'll need

An orange
A red ribbon (or a suitable substitute)
Some silver foil (baking foil)
Four cocktail sticks
A few (8 or so) small pieces of fruit or veg
A candle
A knife

Putting it together

Using the knife cut a small cross into the top of the orange (so that the candle can be pushed into the orange).

Place the foil over the cross you've just cut and then push the candle down into the orange. The foil will catch the wax as it drips. It also make the Christingle look shiny! :)

Tie the ribbon around the orange.

Skewer the fruit etc. on the cocktail sticks and then insert them into the top of the orange.

That's it.

Light as needed! :)

If you want pictures a swift Google image search for 'Christingle' will yield the desired results.