Page 3 - Moravian Messenger January 2019
P. 3

- It's more than 50 years!
Anyone who receives information from The Children's Society will no doubt be aware that this year they are celebrating 50 years of Christingle. Facebook posts promote 'last chance' to apply for your Christingle pack and register your Christingle celebration; and their website is full of information about this 50 year anniversary.
It is true that it is 50 years since the Children's society held THEIR first Christingle service in Lincoln Cathedral on 7th December 1968 but Christingle services were being held in Moravian Churches in the UK for many years before that.
In some parts of its website The Children's Society does acknowledge that the custom of giving children a candle originated in 1747 in the Moravian Church in Germany. However they claim that it was they who introduced the custom to the UK! This following quote from their website is one of many making that claim!
'In 1968, John Pensom of The Children's Society, known as 'Mr Christingle', brought Christingle to this country 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'.
Their website is so full of inaccurate and misleading information about Christingle that it has caused great upset to many Moravians. No one doubts that The Children's Society does a lot of good work and whilst using our precious Christingle as a fundraising tool goes against the grain with many of us, we
acknowledge that it does help them raise money for their work. However, it surely is not too much to ask that they get their facts right! Repeated requests to The Children's Society for them to do this have fallen on deaf ears over the years!
It is not known exactly how the Christingle developed from the original candle tied with a ribbon to the orange stuck with sweets and a frill that we know today, but our archives show that they developed into this form prior to the first world war and Christingles are known in all parts of the world that were served by British Moravian missionaries. During the war Moravians in the UK used turnips in place of the oranges that were not readily available!
The symbolism of the Christingle is essentially that the light of the candle represents Christ, the Light of the world, the fruit and nuts are God's bounty to us, and the red frill at the base of the candle (or in some churches a red candle) is the blood of Jesus shed for all people. The Christingle is given freely to show that God's love is given to us freely, we cannot earn it by our own efforts, it is a gift to us.
The correct history of the Christingle can be found on the Moravian Church website, 12-visitors-to-the-moravian- church/17-moravian-christingle
Leaflets about the true history of Christingles are also available in Brockweir Moravian Church. If you are attending a Christingle Service, please consider passing the correct information on to organisers.
Sr Sue Groves
Letter to the Editor
held in your church or in the local county archives to find references to Christingles and all children's services at Christmas. We want to be able to have accounts from every congregation of their children's Christmas services to discover how the Christingle tradition emerged in our province.
We would also like accounts from you about how your Christingles are made. It is apparent that each congregation has its own traditions and ways of making Christingles and that these have changed over the years particularly when we ceased to use goose quills. Lastly please send in special memories of Christingle services. I spent a lovely time the other day talking with the oldest member at Gracehill and it was really interesting to hear of her memories of attending Christingle Services at Gracehill in the 1930s. Oral history is important
history too.
Please send your research, descriptions of your Christingles with pictures if possible and memories of Christingles to our Archivist, Sr Lorraine Parsons at Church House or by email to We look forward to hearing from you and with your help we can make sure that the story of Christingles is
properly understood and explained to the wider Church.
Sr Sarah Groves
Editorial Team and Minister of Gracehill

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