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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
References in periodicals archive ?
I was only dimly aware of Christingle, as of many things, through years of listening to The Archers.
Held close to Candlemas, Christingle means 'Christ-light' and each child carries an orange representing the world, decorated with a candle representing Jesus as the light of the world and four cocktail sticks representing the seasons decorated with sweets which represent the fruits of the spirit.
And children are definitely at risk of getting burnt by the christingle candles.
St James Parish Church held its annual Christingle service led by Rev Robin Townsend, assisted by the children of Two Gates School.
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.
A Christingle service will be held on December 8 at 10.
At 6pm there will be a Christingle Service followed by refreshments.
On Monday, Christmas Eve, a Christingle service will be held at 4.
A Christingle Carols by Candlelight service will be held on December 23.
A Nativity play being performed at Penmorfa nursery school, Prestatyn, in December 1991 Rhyl Labour Club''s Children''s Christmas Party, circa 1938 Children and adults from Seion Baptist chapel in Nefyn taking part in a Nativity play in 1947 This old postcard showing St Cyngar''s church, Llangefni, would make an ideal Christmas card Santa goes on tour with Ruthin Rotary Club in 1989 Christingle service at St Asaph Cathedral in 1986
MORE than pounds 37,000 was raised across Merseyside at Christingle services in 2007 to support The Children's Society.

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