The History Of The Christingle




In recent years Christingle services have become a popular Christmas tradition. They are held between late November and Christmas in churches and schools around the UK. Familiar carols are often sung and readings are read, whilst the Christingles that children have made are lit.

The symbolism of the traditional Christingle highlights different important parts of the Christian story of Jesus. The orange represents the earth and a candle is pushed into the orange to represent Jesus as the light of the world. The red ribbon tied around the orange represents the blood of Jesus and the fruits pushed onto cocktail sticks represent the goodness of Jesus to his people.

The Christingle tradition can be traced back to 1747 and a German bishop, Johannes de Watteville. The bishop was looking for a simple way to show the happiness that Jesus brought to people and did this using a candle with a red ruff. The Christingle was then popularised in the UK by John Pensom in 1948 at Lincoln Cathedral. Pensom was, at the time, raising funds for the Children’s Society.

The Children’s Society is a charity that supports vulnerable young people and children in the UK. Its work includes supporting young carers, refugee children, exploited children, and children in poverty. As well as providing services directly to children, it lobbies the government and researches issues affecting vulnerable children.

In 1970 Christingle services were held in just twenty churches in the UK to raise money for The Children’s Society. Since then the popularity of the Christingle has grown dramatically. In 1980 the first Christingle service was held in Westminster Abbey and six years later the word ‘Christingle’ first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Children’s Society estimates that around one million people now attend a Christingle service in the UK each year.

It’s great to see the Christingle tradition still flourishing and developing - we’ve even seen some imaginative new trends! Christingle cake and Christingle marmalade recipes are easy to find with a quick internet search, and health and safety regulations have seen some venues replace their candles with glow sticks! We’d love to hear if you have any new Christingle traditions to add to our list. If you’re putting on a Christingle service this year, why not use a song to help explain the symbolism to the children? Hope of Heaven (Christingle Song) from A Cracking Christmas! was specially written by Mark & Helen Johnson and covers each part of the Christingle in a way that’s easy for children (and adults!) to understand.

Written by Hannah Rayson, Operations and Partnership Co-ordinator for Same Boat Music

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Out of the Ark Music has been providing schools across the country – and world – with wonderful primary school musicals and primary school songs for nearly 30 years. Our Christmas musicals and nativity plays make children sparkle and shine, year after year, as they proudly perform their school Christmas play. Our extensive collection of fun and joyous Easter songs, harvest songs, school assembly songs, leavers songs and even space songs, fill schools with laughter and give students and teachers alike, a reason to sing every day of the week. We’re glad you’re supporting us in our dreams of creating the best music for schools around the globe. Read more about us here.


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