Every year for the last 50 years, children and adults of all ages have come together to stick sweets on cocktail sticks, stick them in an orange, put a candle on top and gather together. This is Christingle.
The Children’s Society’s first ever Christingle Service took place at Lincoln Cathedral on 7th December 1968. Only 300 people were expected but as many as 1500 people attended the celebration. That service was the start of something truly memorable.
By 1970, a Christingle Service was being held in St Saviour, Great Moor, Stockport. Services can take place any time between Advent and Candlemas and St Saviours have found it a wonderful opportunity to encourage new people into their church.
At a children’s service in Marienborn in 1947, Bishop Johannes de Watteville looked for a simple way to explain the happiness that had come to people through Jesus. He decided to give the children a symbol to do this. This was a lighted candle wrapped in a red ribbon. St Mary’s was another of these pioneering churches that helped spread the Christingle happiness throughout the UK.
The Children’s Society works with over 48,000 children. Leicester Cathedral are embracing the opportunity to create a special Messy Christingle Service for all children and their families, combining it with singing carols and retelling the Christmas story with Christingle candles.
On the 5th December 1970, at 2.30pm, Great St Mary’s church, the University church of Cambridge, opened its doors and welcomed young and old to come and celebrate what was then a new and different service. Who would have thought that fifty years later this would have become such a well loved tradition and much loved service in the church’s year.
A magical setting awaits at St Mary le Tower, when over 100 decorated Christmas trees will adorn the church. The Christingle Service is part of these festivities where a packed church will be led by singing from the choristers before they join the rest of the children to create their Christingle candles.
Located at the highest point in Bury, the current building of St Mary the Virgin was completed in 1876, though there has been a building of worship on this site for over 1,000 years. The new church designed by architect JS Crowther, was fittingly officially opened on Candlemas Day.
Although it is not certain which church in Ashton under Lyne held the first Christingle, the belief is that it was at St Michael’s that Christingle Services came to the town in 1970. Sadly, St Michael's has not had a Christingle service in many years. But nearby St Peter’s and St James both carry on the tradition today.
Consecrated in 1852, St Paul’s is sited on the highest point in Salford. It suffered a terrible arson attack in 1987 which wiped out nearly 135 years of history. The resulting church has the original Victorian outer shell with a modern interior within. A perfect warm welcome for its Christingle Service this year.
Sadly St Luke’s closed a few years ago when the parish merged with neighbouring St Matthew. But the tradition of Christingles carried on every year until its closure. For a time a joint service was held with the nearby Moravian church, which first brought Christingle to Britain. The tradition continues today at St Matthew.
Twenty years ago when St James church started the Christingle service the congregation were slightly younger than they are now. Wanting to keep the tradition alive but wanting to have a service for the children, the parish decided to hold their Christingle at their tiny daughter church of St Clement. And so, the tradition is able to carry today.
The orange represents the world, and the red ribbon indicates God’s love wrapped around the world and the blood Christ shed on the cross for us all. In 1970 St Mary’s Christingle Service shared this message to the people of Northampton.
Children really enjoy discovering the meaning of the Christingle. The dried fruits and sweets are symbols of God’s creations. For many they also represent the four seasons. St Oswald still holds this special service twenty years after it first started in 1970.
Peterborough Cathedral is beautiful in daylight, but even more so in candlelight when hundreds of Christingle candles are lit to symbolise Jesus, the light of the world, who brings hope to people living in darkness.
One of the first cathedrals to celebrate the Christingle, today it has children right at the heart of the service. Making the Christingle candle before the start of the service creates great excitement and anticipation of what is to come.
Early Christingle services took place in the original church of Holy Angels, which was dedicated in 1915. The title is unique in the Anglican church and the name was given in thanks for the intervention of angels in the battle of Mons. This church was replaced in 1997 with a smaller building.
St Peter’s is the most iconic building in Brighton and is sometimes referred to as ‘Brighton’s Cathedral’. Fifty years ago the church helped pioneer the Christingle Service, today it continues in its pioneering spirit, offering a vibrant evangelistic experience.
It was Revd Don Lewis’s enthusiasm that brought the Christingle to St Peter’s in 1970. He introduced the Christingle to the congregation. This involved children decorating an orange with a red ribbon, dried fruits, sweets and a candle to create a new visual representation of Christ, the light of the world, celebrated by the lighting of the Christingle candles. Today, two services have to be held to ensure that everyone can share in this most special of occasions.
New Mills itself is a lively and interesting town on the edge of Derbyshire’s Peak District where agricultural and industrial past, present and future meet. It played a key role in making the Christingle Service become the celebration it is today with over one million people attending a service somewhere in the UK.
Christingle collections raise millions of pounds to support The Children’s Society’s work with young people. The hope is to bring love to the hearts of children who feel ignored, sanctuary to the lives of those who feel unsafe, and peace to the minds of young people who feel like they simply don’t matter. St Andrew’s in Holt, played its part 50 years ago in spreading the good news of the importance of the Christingle service.
A Christingle celebration allows adults and children share a joyful and memorable tradition that will stay with them forever. Suffolk’s beautiful cathedral will be celebrating their long standing partnership with the Children’s Society by hosting a big 50th celebration with local schools.
So many children in this country have still never had a Christmas they’ve looked forward to. St Mary with St Peter’s will hope that the joy of their Christingle service will help the Children’s Society change children’s lives and give them their first proper Christmas.