Posted: 15 December 2015

'People say that this is the moment when their Christmas starts'

For more than 30 years, Barbara Weeks has helped organise the Christingle service at her church, St Petroc’s in Devon. Today, she shares her experience of Christingle and what makes it such a wonderful event.

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Q: We know that your church has been holding Christingle services for a very long time, but how did you first become involved?

A: We’ve been holding a Christingle Service each year for over 30 years. We first started doing them when we realised that the children we had in Sunday School were too young to do a nativity play, and saw Christingle as being a good alternative.

I’ve had various roles in helping to organise the services over the years, but now I mainly just help to organise the team of people who put the service together, as my main duties as a church warden tend to keep me quite busy these days. 

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Why do you think Christingle has been going on for as long as it has?

I think it’s the fact that Christingle is a really special event.

We hold our event at 4pm on Christmas Eve when the church has been decorated, the Christmas tree is in place, the crib scene is set up and the path to the church is lit up with fairy lights. The atmosphere is very special and people say that this is the moment when their Christmas starts. For many people, it really is the highlight of the year.

It says a lot about the value of Christingle that so many are happy to get away from the commercialism of Christmas and come to church.

What’s your favourite thing about Christingle?

My favourite thing about Christingle is the way it brings people of different ages together. We have a mixed age group of helpers who make the Christingles on the morning of Christmas Eve, and last year one lady who had been going through quite a difficult time said that being with us ‘made her Christmas'.

It’s always really lovely to see our beautiful church full of families, and especially good to see so many people that who don’t usually attend. A lot of the older generation who aren’t regular churchgoers will come along to Christingle because they enjoy seeing the children having so much fun and being so joyful. For the children, it really is a very special event, so much so that last year a number of the small boys who play hand bells in the church near enough demanded that they be allowed to play at the Christingle celebration because they love it so much.

It says a lot about the value of Christingle that so many are happy to get away from the commercialism of Christmas and come to church.

In the last 30 years, your church has consistently used the funds raised from your Christingle to support The Children’s Society. Why do you choose to support us?

In our village, young and old are happy and cared for. I know that The Children’s Society is working towards a time in the future when everywhere will be able to say the same thing.

Given the number of issues that face children and young people in our communities today, I really feel we need to do more to try and support them as much as we can. Supporting The Children’s Society through our Christingle celebrations is just our way our doing our part to try and make things better.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of organising a Christingle celebration? 

If anything, I would suggest over-planning, then nothing can go wrong. Also make sure that people know well in advance which day and where the event will be taking place. I put a reminder in the parish magazine and put posters around the village. Word of mouth is also really important to help you catch any potential new comers!

Depending on the size of your venue, you might need to do a risk assessment, but at the very least make sure that you have a very responsible person who can keep a watchful eye on what is going on, as whoever is leading the service will have his or her hands full at the front! The Christingle safety posters are also really useful in making sure everyone enjoys themselves safely.

 

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By Matt Summers-Sparks - Digital team
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