At a Hen's Pace is hosting an Advent traditions carnival today so I thought I would do a post on the Christingle service. I had never heard of this service before I moved to England, and here it is now a big part of the Advent season, and it is all about putting Christ back in Christmas. It has it's origins in the Moravian Church, and became part of the Anglican tradition in 1968 apparently. If you google Christingle, you will come up with some great sites which tell the story behind the first Christingle in the 1700s.
To make a Christingle, you need 4 tooth picks, an orange, a small candle, some dried fruit and a red ribbon. The orange represents the goodness of the Earth God created, and the 4 tooth picks represent the 4 seasons, and each stick is threaded with dried fruits to represent the fruits of the Earth.
The red ribbon is wound round the orange, to represent the blood of Christ, who died to save the world, and the small white candle which is inserted into a small hole, usually lined with some tin foil, represents Jesus, the Light of the world.
There is a very close link with the Children's Society, here in the UK, and the children in the Sunday Schools are given envelopes in the weeks before the service, to collect money, which all goes to the Children's Society. The great thing about this service, is the complete lack of commercialism. I wish you could see the little ones' faces as they go up to the front of the church to receive their Christingle (as do we all) and then the lights are dimmed and the candles lit, and "Away in a Manger" is sung at the end of the service. Here, it is on the afternoon of the 2nd Sunday in Advent.
We traditionally also have an advent wreath with 4 candles, and light one each Sunday in Advent, and then add a 5th on Christmas morning. When my parents lived in South Africa, my sister in Switzerland, and us here in the UK, we used to make a time in 3 time zones and all light our Advent candles at the same time, to celebrate together. Now, we try to do the same with my sister in Switzerland.