Symbolic Christian object

Christingles prepared for a Christmas Eve service

A Christingle is a symbolic object used in the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany services of many Christian denominations. It symbolises the birth of Christ, the Light of the World.[1] A modern Christingle is made from a candle in an orange (representing the light and the world respectively) which is typically decorated with a red ribbon and sweets or dried fruit. It has been a feature in Moravian churches across the United Kingdom since before the World Wars. As members of Moravian churches moved away from their home congregations, they took the custom of Christingles with them and introduced it to other denominations. In the 1960s John Pensom adopted it as a fundraising tool for The Children's Society of the Church of England.


The history of the Christingle can be traced back to Moravian Bishop Johannes de Watteville, who started the tradition in Germany in 1747 as "an attempt to get children to think about Jesus".[2] At that time it was just a red ribbon wrapped around a candle; it is unclear how an orange came to be incorporated into the Christingle.[2]

In the intervening years, the Moravian Church spread the tradition of Christingle through their early role in the Protestant missionary movement.[3]

The custom was popularized in the United Kingdom by John Pensom in 1968.[2] He was raising funds for the charity The Children's Society.[2][4] In the 2000s, over 5,000 Christingle services, in which children are presented with Christingles, were being held in the UK every year.[2] In 2018, over 6,000 services were held for The Children's Society. Each year, Christingle raises over £1.2 million to help vulnerable young people.[5]

In 2018, The Children's Society launched its #Christingle50 campaign, which included festive services in schools and churches for the 50th year.[6]


A Christingle, with marshmallows skewered on the cocktail sticks

A Christingle usually consists of:[1][2][4]

  • An orange, representing the world
  • A candle pushed into the centre of the orange, then lit, representing Jesus Christ as Light of the World
  • A red ribbon wrapped around the orange or a paper frill around the candle, representing the blood of Christ
  • Dried fruits and/or sweets skewered on cocktail sticks pushed into the orange, representing the fruits of the earth and the four seasons.

Alternate additions to the Christingle include:

  • Foil wrapped around the candle, to prevent hand burns if candle wax runs down the orange
  • Cloves studded into the orange, as a replacement for the dried fruits and/or sweets, making it into a modern pomander
  • In 2006, Chelmsford Cathedral in the UK announced that it would be replacing the candles with glowsticks, due to concerns of children's hair catching on fire.[7]


The name Christingle probably derives from a German dialectical word Christkindl, meaning 'Christ-child'[8][9] or 'Christmas gift'.[9] Alternatively, according to a BBC source, the name means 'Christ Light',[1] being that the orange and candle symbolise the Light of the World.

See also

  • iconChristianity portal


  1. ^ a b c "How to make a Christingle". Tees. BBC. 5 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 November 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Christingle: The Christmas tradition that only got going in the 1960s". BBC News. 19 December 2014. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Moravian Church - Moravian Customs". Monrovian Church. 10 December 2019. Archived from the original on 25 December 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b "What is Christingle?". The Children's Society. 24 November 2010. Archived from the original on 9 December 2016. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Christingle: The Christmas tradition that only got going in the 1960s". BBC News. 19 December 2014. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Around 200,000 children face neglect this Christmas, charity warns". ITV News. 25 October 2018. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  7. ^ Sapsted, David (13 December 2006). "Cathedral puts out the flames of Christingle". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  8. ^ Sandford, John (3 April 2013). Encyclopedia of Contemporary German Culture. Routledge. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-136-81603-1.
  9. ^ a b Knowles, Elizabeth (12 October 2006). The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Christingle. ISBN 978-0-19-157856-4.

External links

Look up christingle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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