Christingle is a special, memorable celebration that takes place in thousands of churches and schools across the country

Christingle service

The celebration is named after the Christingles that are lit during the service. Christingles are made from an orange decorated with red tape, sweets and a candle. With your help, Christingle raises vital funds to help children who are facing Christmas alone and are unable to cope.

Christingles may be held from the start of Advent to Candlemas, with Christmas Eve a particularly popular time for services.

Your Christingle celebration is an opportunity to bring your whole community together, to share the Christian story and to experience the joy and wonder of this well-loved Christmas tradition. 

The symbolism of Christingle

Each element of a Christingle has a special meaning and helps to tell the Christian story:

  • The orange represents the world
  • The red ribbon (or tape) symbolises the love and blood of Christ
  • The sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations
  • The lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

Want to have a go at making a Christingle? Watch our tutorial video of how to make a Christingle

The symbolism of Christingle

What happens at a Christingle celebration?

From traditional services to outdoor events, street parades and Messy Christingles, there is no one way to hold a Christingle celebration.  The service usually include prayers, readings, hymns and carols – and of course the all-important lighting of the Christingles, a moment filled with awe and wonder for all.

Because Christingle was specifically created with children in mind, the celebrations are the perfect event for children and families and can be enjoyed by people of all ages – especially if they don't regularly attend church.  

How Christingle helps children and young people

Your Christingle collections raise millions of pounds to support our work with young people who are experiencing a range of complex issues, and who feel alone. We hope 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. Through Christingle, you can help give a child their first Christmas free from sadness and fear. 

Thanks to our supporters and Christingle events we’re able to provide a network of services all over the country for vulnerable children who feel they have no one they can turn to for help. Last year we worked with 13,000 children and young people between the ages of 10 and 18. We work with children and young people who have had traumatic experiences, who aren’t seen, aren’t understood, and help them to find the strength they need to cope. We bring together what’s needed to help them lead the life they should have and realise their potential.

Making the most of your celebration

Christingle is a great opportunity to get everyone together for an even bigger celebration.

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Involve your whole community by holding multiple Christingles. 
  • Build a Christingle time capsule to open at a future Christingle anniversary! 
  • Hide a golden Christingle among some of the orange ones, with prizes for those who find them (your very own version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket!). 
  • Try a record attempt eg how many Christingles can you make in 10 minutes? 
  • Let your community know where your event is.

The history of Christingle

Last year was a very special one for Christingle as it was 50 years since the first Christingle service for The Children's Society was held in this country, at Lincoln Cathedral on 7 December 1968. But Christingles themselves actually go back much further, and began in the Moravian Church in Germany. At a children’s service in Marienborn in 1747, 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. In 1968, John Pensom of The Children's Society adapted Christingle and introduced it to the Church of England. 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.