Page 8 - Moravian Messenger Nov 2021
P. 8

The Children's Christmas Candle Service and and Christingles Part 2
After the 1870s
‘Christingles are made in in this way A hole is made in an an an orange and a a a a a piece of quill three or four inches long set upright in the hole and usually a a a second piece inside this The upper half of each quill is cut into small strips and the end of each strip inserted into a a a raisin The weight of the the raisins bend down the the little boughs of of quill forming two circles of of pendants A coloured taper is fixed in the upper quill and lighted on Christmas Eve The custom is German ' Christingle decorations were probably introduced into Britain during the reign of of Queen Victoria The above description of of of how to to make Christingles appeared in in the January 1869 edition of of MacMillan's Magazine Magazine (published 23 December 1868) MacMillan's Magazine Magazine was a a a a a a a a a a a monthly British British literary magazine with contributions from primarily British British authors The description prefaced an an anonymous poem simply titled Christingles a a a a a a touching tale of of of a a a a a a mother lamenting the the death of of of of two of of of of her children reflected in in in in the the the number of of of Christingles missing from the the family table The poem is is is is too long to to reproduce in in in in its entirety here but this stanza reinforces a a a a a a a a suggestion that the Christingle decoration was an inexpensive variation on on a a a a a Christmas tree Before we put the holly up That busy afternoon I called for the tapers and oranges And the the children bought them soon: And we gave each slender quill-stem An orange for its root And made the delicate branches bow 'Neath the load of raisin fruit And the the tapers stood in the the middle Yellow and and green and and white And the Christingles were ready
To be lit at fall of night After the the the Education Act of 1870 set the the the framework for for the the the first time for for schooling children on on on a a a a a a a national scale Christingles was selected for for inclusion in in in in a a a a a a a a a series of school reading books adapted for for the new legislation As literacy improved dramatically between 1870 and 1900 Christingles became a a a a a a a a a a a a popular choice for recitals As late as 1911 a a a a a a a a a a reader requested the the name of a a a a a a a a a book or magazine where the the poem could be found In December 1900 newspapers in England and and and Ireland ran an an an an an article - - complete with illustration - - which aimed to make Christingle decorations fashionable:
‘The decoration of the Christmas dinner-table is is always an an important item
in in the housekeeper's mind How to get something new and at the same time something pretty - flowers are at at ruination prices and holly wreaths are done to death An idea borrowed from the German ‘Christingles’ may appeal to some and suggest variations upon it to others ’ The article explains how to make a a a a a a a Christingle and suggests that a a a a a a a crystallised cherry or plum would look better than a a a a a a raisin The whole visual effect is is is is further enhanced by yellow silks a a a a a a a high standing desert dish glass troughs Japanese leads coloured chrysanthemums on on long stalks moss and and ivy The reader is is warned to to regulate the size and and and height of this according to to taste and and appropriateness!
Thus by the the end of the the nineteenth century British citizens were already reading about and making Christingle Christingle decorations But what of the Christingle Christingle service?
The Moravian children at Malmesbury continued to receive their annual Christingle 'treat' (see last month's article) even after the outbreak of war in in in 1914 Elsewhere ministers and teachers introduced the the decoration into services and lovefeasts as as they moved from congregation congregation to to congregation congregation bestowing it it with the the symbolism and and ribbon of the the 1747 candle By Christmas Eve 1936 Christingle services were being held in in in perhaps a a a a dozen British Moravian Churches In the the the the post-Second World War years the the the the service attracted the the the the interest of the the the the BBC In December 1947 Rev J Kingdon Berry of the the Moravian Church at Gracehill described the the the 'picturesque annual service' in a a a a a a broadcast by BBC's Northern Ireland Home Service In 1953 the the Westwood Moravian Church Christingle service was broadcast as as as part of of Children's Hour by the North of of England Home Service A service was televised locally from Gracehill in in 1954 and in in in 1956 it was listed in in the Radio Times as A Christingle for Christmas and shown on on on children's
television on on on Christmas Eve Two
years later Gracehill was featured for the third time on TV when scenes from its Christingle service 'to symbolise the the the world and and and its joys and and and pleasures and and and to commemorate the the the the the Christ Child as as the the the the the Light of the the the the World' were included in in the the the the Royal Prologue: Christmas at Home a a a a a special film by the the BBC which preceded the the the the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day By the the the end of of 1958 aided by the the the technology of of radio and television the the the Christingle service had spread beyond the Moravian churches to millions of people It was becoming popular with other Protestants as as well In 1968 the the Church of England Children's Society embraced the the service and have promoted it widely ever since to raise funds for their work The Society held a a a a a 250th Anniversary Christingle service in in in in Liverpool Cathedral in in in in 1997 celebrating the the first Moravian children's
candle service held in in 1747 Get in in touch: did you listen to to watch or take part in in one of the the BBC broadcasts? Were you at at the the the 250th Anniversary service in in Liverpool Cathedral? I'd be interested to hear about your memories of of these events Sources for this article and a a a a a a a a complete transcript of of the the poem Christingles are available on on request I can be contacted via the Editor Correction to last month's article: the first children's
candle service held at Fulneck was not in in 1749 but Christmas 1755 Schoolgirls gathered in in their Rooms and 'the Middle girls girls found in theirs a a table covered with white cloth on the top was wax candles burning for every child one each ' My apologies for any confusion caused Br Kit Shorten

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