What Is a Christingle and What Is the Meaning Behind It?
There are so many festive events around the holiday season, particularly Christmas time.
One of the most well-known might be the Christingle service.
But if you haven’t heard of this before, then you’re in the right place.
In this guide, we explain what is a Christingle Service, what happens during the service, and the history of the event.
Before we get into explaining what happens at a Christingle service, it might be worth answering the question ‘what is a Christingle?’.
The term Christingle refers to the object used at a Christingle service.
A Christingle is most commonly an orange with a red ribbon wrapped around it, and a candle pushed into the center of the orange. It’s finished off with sweets or dried fruits on skewers, pierced into the top of the orange around the candle.
It might sound like an odd image, and it certainly looks a bit strange by itself.
But as soon as the lights go off in the church and the room is lit by candlelight, you’ll understand why the Christingle service is growing in popularity across the world.
Now we know what a Christingle actually is, let’s find out more about this festive service.
In this guide to Christingle, we’ll explain:
- What is a Christingle Service?
- What Do You Need for a Christingle?
- Christingle Service Ideas
- What Happens at a Christingle Service?
- Why Do We Celebrate Christingle?
- What Is the Meaning Behind Christingle?
- Christingle FAQs
What is a Christingle Service?
A Christingle Service is a celebratory event held by tens of thousands of churches each year.
The term Christingle comes from German origin, ‘Christkindl’, meaning “Little Christ Child”.
People attend the Christingle service to recognize and celebrate Jesus Christ as the “Light of the World”.
The candles symbolize the light of Christ, and people celebrate bringing hope to people living in darkness.
The meaning of the Christingle will vary slightly according to the season.
At Advent, it represents the hope of light in the darkness. At Christmas, it symbolizes the birth of Jesus, and at Epiphany God’s light for all people.
What Happens at a Christingle Service?
Depending on the church, you may bring your own Christingle or the church will provide enough for everyone.
Often the kids will get to the church a few hours before the celebrations to make the Christingles beforehand.
During the service, either every person or just the children will take a Christingle. The candles are all lit to create a warm, magical glow.
Much like most festive celebrations, people will usually sing Christmas carols, come together in prayer and have fun with their families.
What Do You Need for a Christingle?
So we now know what happens at the candlelit event, but what do you need to make a Christingle for yourself?
To make your own Christingle, you will need:
- 1 orange
- 1 candle
- Red ribbon
- Small (or cut up) skewers or Cocktail Sticks
- Sweets or dried fruits (such as sultanas)
- Tinfoil (aluminum foil)
|Fun Fact: Since 2006, Chelmsford Cathedral (UK) has replaced candles with glow sticks for their Christingle service!|
How to Make a Christingle
- Slice of a thin layer from the base of the orange so that it stands upright by itself.
- Secure a length of red ribbon around the orange with glue or tape and cut the excess. You can make a bow for an extra flourish!
- Over a tray or sink to catch the juice, cut a small cross in the top of your orange and lay a 3inch/8cm square over the cross. This is to catch any dripping wax.
- Push your candle into the cross you made and into the orange. Make sure it’s firmly stuck into the fruit.
- Push your sweets or dried fruits onto your cocktail sticks or skewers, and push them into the orange around the base of the orange.
And there you have your Christingle!
There’s no one way to do a Christingle service. People may come together in their homes, churches, schools, online, or even outdoors!
Why Do We Celebrate Christingle?
The Christingle service celebrates bringing light to people in darkness, a common theme in religious ceremonies around advent and the holiday season.
What is the History of the Christingle?
The history of the Christingle can be traced back to Johannes de Watteville, a Moravian Bishop, who started the tradition in Germany in 1747.
This is also where the name Christingle comes from – the german ‘Christkindl’ meaning Christ Child.
The Moravian Church spread the tradition of Christingle through their early role in Protestant history.
John Pensom popularized the event in the United Kingdom in 1968. In a tradition that has carried on to today, he was raising funds for the charity The Children’s Society.
Do you know Which Country Banned Christmas in 1644?
What Is the Meaning Behind Christingle?
Christingle is a joyful celebration during the festive period that brings families and communities together. They share and celebrate the light of Jesus, and spread a message of bringing hope to people in darkness.
As well as the meaning of the ceremony itself, each element of the Christingle holds its own meaning.
- The orange
The spherical orange represents the world.
- The candle
The candle represents the Light of Jesus Christ bringing hope to people in darkness.
- Red ribbon
The red ribbon around the orange symbolizes the blood Jesus shed.
- Skewers or Cocktail Sticks
There are two theories for this – some people think the four sticks point in all directions and symbolize the North, South, East, and West of the earth. Some people think they represent the four seasons.
- Sweets or dried fruits
The sweets or fruits represent the fruits of the earth, nurtured by the sunshine and the rain. This supports the above theory of the sticks representing the four seasons.
How Long Is a Christingle Service?
The Christingle Service is usually between half an hour to an hour. It will typically consist of the lighting of the candles, coming together in prayer, and carol singing.
When Is a Christingle Service Held?
The Christingle Service is most commonly held on Christmas Eve, with many families going home to put up their Christmas trees after attending the Christingle Service.
It can also be performed at other times during Advent. Usually, Christingle will be between the start of December and 2nd February (Candlemas).
Key Takeaways: What Is A Christingle Service + Meaning Behind Christingle
However you celebrate Christingle, it’s guaranteed to be fun bringing together the community.
The combination of sweets, crafts, candlelight, and carol singing is a perfect start to Christmas.
We hope our explanation of ‘What is a Christingle Service‘ has been enjoyable and helpful to you.
And we also hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about the history and meaning behind Christingle.
It’s interesting how it’s gained the majority of its popularity in recent years, as most of our frequently celebrated holidays are centuries old.
This is all down to the fundraising efforts of the Children’s Society.
In fact, many traditional Moravians don’t actually like the modern representations of Christingle, as they believe there should be no money associated with the event at all.
However, the great thing about the more modern ceremonies is that you can celebrate them however you want.
This can lead to all kinds of fun and engaging events that are fun for all the family.
So if you’re celebrating a Christingle service in your home, school, or church this year, we hope you have the BEST time.
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