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A Christingle


Origin uncertain; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, possibly from dialectal German Christkindl, Christkindle (the Christ child, believed to deliver presents to children on Christmas Eve; the presents so brought), from Christ (Christ) + Kindl, Kindle (dialectal diminutive of Kind (child)). The -ingle portion of the word may be a corruption of Kris Kringle (Santa Claus) (also derived from German Christkindl, Christ Kinde) among the German community in the United States.[1]



Christingle (plural Christingles)

  1. (Christianity) A small Christmas gift for children symbolizing Jesus Christ as the “light” of the world. A typical modern Christingle is made of an orange with sweets skewered into it, a candle inserted into the top, and a red ribbon wrapped round it.
    • 1869 January 23, “Christingles”, in Every Saturday: A Journal of Choice Reading, Selected from Foreign Current Literature, volume VII, number 160, Boston, Mass.: Fields, Osgood, & Co., successors to Ticknor and Fields, OCLC 123899278, page 127, column 2:
      I lit the three Christingles, / I lit them one by one, / On the merry, merry Christmas Eve, / When all the work was done. / I lit the three Christingles, / And they burned with a joyous ray, / But the faces that bent above them / Were fuller of light than they.
    • 2002, Gordon Geddes; Jane Griffiths, “The Christmas Cycle of Festivals”, in Christian Belief and Practice: The Roman Catholic Tradition (GCSE Religious Studies for AQA), Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers, →ISBN, page 92:
      A Christingle is an orange with a red ribbon around it. A small candle is set in the top. Four sticks, usually cocktail sticks, are placed in the orange. Pieces of fruit or small sweets are placed on the sticks. A Christingle is full of symbolism. The orange represents the world. The red ribbon is the blood of Jesus shed for everyone at his crucifixion. The candle represents Jesus, the Light of the World. The four sticks are either the four seasons or the four corners of the world. The fruit and sweets represent the food that God provides.
    • 2015 November 25, Rachel Stevenson, “268 Years of Christingle”, in The Children's Society[1], archived from the original on 5 September 2015:
      The Christingle service has its origins in the Moravian Church and dates back to 20th December 1747 in Mairenborn, Germany. 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.
  2. (Christianity) A church service for children incorporating Christingles, usually held during Advent.
    • 2016, Victoria Williams, quoting Rosemary Williams, “Christingle, United Kingdom”, in Celebrating Life Customs around the World: From Baby Showers to Funerals, volume 1 (Birth and Childhood), Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 96:
      The Christingle service always attracts lots of people so the giving out of the oranges has to be limited little children; otherwise, some big children (i.e., teenagers) have been known to try their luck and line up for an orange too! I always used to take my two daughters, Victoria and Alexandra, to the Christingle.

Usage notes[edit]

The Christingle was originally a custom of the Moravian Church in Germany. In the 20th century, it was popularized in the United Kingdom by The Children's Society of the Church of England.


Further reading[edit]