Christingle


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Christingle

Christingle is the name of a special Protestant Christmas Eve service popular in England. The word also refers to the decorated candles distributed to children at this service. Christingle candles can be traced back to the Moravians, a group of Protestant Christians whose denomination was founded in the fifteenth century in what is now the Czech Republic (for more on the Moravians, see Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas in; Lovefeast).

Moravians have long distributed beeswax candles, trimmed with red paper or ribbon, to worshipers at their Christmas Eve services. As the congregation sings hymns they hold up their flickering candles, symbolizing the Christ child or the Christ light. Moravians brought this custom with them to England, where the German Christkindel (Christ child) became "Christingle."

As the years went by, the design of the candle changed and acquired new symbolism. Children attending today's Christingle services receive an orange into which a candle, festooned with red and white ribbons and paper, has been inserted. Raisins, nuts, candies, and other sweets, skewered onto toothpicks, surround the candle. While the candle still stands for Christ, the orange is said to represent the world. The sweets may symbolize the sweetness that comes from following Christ or the bounty of the earth, and the red and white paper represents the blood of Christ and its power to purify. (For asimilar custom, see Wales, Christmas in.)

Christingle services and candles can also be found in Labrador, Canada, and other places where English Moravians sent missionaries. Instead of an orange, the people of Labrador insert their Christingle candles into an apple. In England the Christingle service and candles have spread beyond Moravian churches, becoming popular with other Protestants as well.

Web Sites

The Moravian Church in America offers a page on the Christingle at:

The Royal School of Church Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting all styles of church music in all denominations, offers information on Christingle services at: christingle_services.htm
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The tradition of the Christingle, a decorated orange featuring a candle, began in Germany in the mid-18th century and the cathedral will raise funds for the Dorothy Menzies Children's Care Home in Belize, a cause taken up by long-time Bahrain resident Yvonne Trueman.
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The most stable Christmas service with which I was involved was a Christingle one held every year in the wonderful, unspoilt 18th century church in West Yorkshire.
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Also among the events and services coming up at the church are a Christmas Coffee Morning, from 10am to noon on December 13, with a craft and cake stall, and Christingle on December 21 at 10.
Events during the festive season included a Christingle event at the local Church, St Mary Magdalene, and have gathered pace since.

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