The Chrismologist's Advent Calendar - Day 12

Sunday 12 December 2010

In the lead up to Christmas, children often attend a Christingle service. But what is a Christingle and what are its origins?

The physical form of the Christingle is an orange, tied with a red ribbon and stuck with a candle and cocktail sticks bearing fruit and nuts. It is a symbolic object particularly used in Christian Advent services, hence the name given to a particular type of religious service. The word Christingle actually means 'Christ Light'. Both the Christingles that are made and the Christingle services that take place in church, celebrate Jesus coming into the world, in his aspect as the Light of the World.

The first Christingle service was held in a castle in Germany, on Christmas Eve 1747, by a bishop of the Moravian Church known as Pastor John. He wanted to find some simple way of teaching people about the true meaning of Christmas. His solution was to prepare a simple symbol which would make the Christmas message seem fresh and alive to them. During the informal service, Pastor John gave each child present a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon. He then intoned a prayer.

You can find out more about the origins of the Christingle (and Nativity plays) in What is Myrrh Anyway? Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas, published by Icon Books, and Christmas Miscellany, published by Skyhorse Publishing.


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