Posted: 04 December 2017

270 years of Christingle

Although fast approaching our 50th year of celebrating Christingle in England, the service actually began in Marienborn, Germany in 1747.

At a children’s service, 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.

Origins of the Christingle orange

The language used to describe a Christingle has changed over time but fundamentally a Christingle is a candle set into an orange, respectively representing the world and Jesus. A red ribbon is tied around the orange, representing the blood of Christ. Fruit and sweets on four cocktail sticks are also set in the orange, representing the four seasons and God's love in providing the fruits of the earth. 

This service was performed in local churches all over Moravia when families would gather together at Christmas time. In the first service, the children were encouraged to take their Christingle home to re-light and place in their cottage to show the light of Christ to passers-by.

Want to have a go at making a Christingle? Watch our handy tutorial video and learn how to make your own. 

Our history with Christingle

Our first Christingle service took place in Lincoln Cathedral on 7 December 1968.

Only 300 people were expected but as many as 1500 attended the celebration 

Our fundraising team in the West Midlands at the time, had the idea of introducing Christingle to The Children's Society. They wanted to work with both the church and lay communities to organise events, festivals and similar occasions in order to promote and aid our work. The celebration of Christingle was the perfect opportunity for us to work with the Church of England and promote fundraising.

Ever since, the celebration has grown.


Seven Christingles

In 1969 seven services were conducted and in 1970 around 18 were held.

According to our supporters' magazine, Gateway, in 1970: 'The services are suitable for all the family. They include Advent hymns and carols, prayers for our work, and a purse presentation by children of the diocese. Children go forward to receive Christingle oranges and the Christingle hymn or carol is sung by the light of these alone.'

The booklet from our first Christingle service


21 years of services

In 1989, we celebrated 21 years of our Christingle services with special events in Coventry Cathedral and York Minster. A giant Christingle was lit, and from this further Christingles to carry the flame from one location to the next.

Our supporter magazine in 1989


Across the UK

By the 1990s, many thousands of Christingle services were taking place in every type of church in villages, towns and cities across the UK. These provided an opportunity for congregations to think about children helped by us and to offer prayers and monetary gifts to further their work.

The cover of one of our Christingle service booklets from the early 1990s


250th Anniversary

In 1997 we celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Christingle tradition with an event at Liverpool Cathedral, while a record number of services and supporters – more than a million adults and half a million children – took part in the Christingle celebrations, helping to raise £1.2 million.


Bake with kate

This Christmas Reverend Kate Bottley, star of Gogglebox and Celebrity Masterchef, joined us in the kitchen to create some festive magic by baking a very special Christingle cake.

On Saturday 25 November, Kate was on Facebook Live causing chaos in the kitchen, and explaining why she’s supporting our work with missing children.

Watch Kate bake

Kate Bottley with Christingle cake

Join in with the fun

Of course, Christingle celebrations are one of the most popular events in the Church calendar today. The benefits that Christingle has bought to our charity are immeasurable, not only in terms of the huge amount of funds that have been raised over the years but also in terms of the enthusiasm, inspiration and joy that these services generate among those taking part. 

These heart-warming celebrations are perfect for bringing together the whole family and community, particularly during the busy festive season.

Whether you are hosting a celebration or attending one, being part of Christingle means you can help to make sure no child feels alone this Christmas. 

Find out how you can get involved in Christingle

By Louise Jones - Digital team

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