Grandson and son-in-law assembling a Christingle

Grandson and son-in-law assembling a Christingle

Christingle,  which I mentioned in my last post, is a comparatively recent addition to the Anglican calendar, having made its first appearance in 1968 to raise money for the Children’s Society.  Its origins, however, go back to the C18 when John de Watteville, a Moravian minister (in Moravia, although the church has since become worldwide), devised the service to include not only popular hymns but also verses written by the children themselves. De Watteville understood the objectification of symbolism and  towards the end of the service each child was given a lighted candle tied around with a red ribbon and the minister prayed, “Lord Jesus, kindle a flame in these children’s hearts, that theirs like Thine become”. His  Marienborn Diary comments “hereupon the children went full of joy with their lighted candles to their rooms and so went glad and happy to bed”.

As you may imagine the Christingle service is especially appealing to the very young for whom lighted candles are greatly exciting. Originally the candle was tied with a simple  red ribbon (the red standing for the sacrifice of Jesus). Later the candle was stuck in an orange (to symbolise the world) and the ribbon was tied around this, while dried fruit or sweets were threaded on 4 cocktail sticks to represent the fruits of the earth and the 4 seasons. Even more exciting.

Some people just have the knack

Some people just have the knack

This is the first time we’ve held a Christingle at Ipsden Church, although our sister church at North Stoke, having more children in the village, has had them for several years and for one family the assembling of the Christingle oranges has become a cherished Christmas tradition. In villages you have to work with the clay you are given and until recently Ipsden clay was of, shall we say, a geological vintage. Now we have some little ones – mostly under 5s  (and including rabbit’s friends and relations and visiting grandchildren) so we devised a very informal service – a couple of hymns sung to organ and improvised tambourine accompaniment, short readings, an hoc choir of children who were press ganged – erm , who volunteered – as they came into church and organ playing by a young man not long with double figures to his age.

As little children love being involved in making things we set aside a large chunk of time for self assembly of the Christingle orange kits. Like the proverbially smooth swimming of water birds, this involved a good deal of back stage preparation as the individual parts were apportioned out beforehand by a small team of dedicated workers – sweet distributors, orange surgeons – to flatten the bottom and make a hole in the top for the candle – and red ribbon handmaidens. We shall draw a veil over the small contretemps between the vicar and his wife over exactly how many sweets were needed. (Lack of joined up thought on my part – what on earth did I think the church warden had bought 40 oranges for if they were not all to be christingled?) Gold stars to the son-in -law who gallantly ran the full half mile to the vicarage, found the jar of sultanas and then ran the return half mile rattling like a primitive musical instrument.  (I never worked out whether everyone had the full quota of confectionary but as everyone seemed happy enough, I shall think no more about it.)

How many  pairs of hands does it take to assemble a Christingle ...

How many pairs of hands does it take to assemble a Christingle …

Prudently we had opted for glowsticks rather than candles, so adults had only the cocktail sticks to worry about.  Unsurprisingly I had forgotten my camera so daughter No 1 took a few pics with her phone and – though one is a bit out of focus – I can’t resist showing them for obvious reasons.  Biscuits and gingerbread houses were handed round.  It was a very jolly time with plenty to laugh about. I shall long cherish the look of concentration on the faces of the farmer, the engineer and the retired army officer as they threaded their cocktail sticks with sweets…(see  above)

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  1. Penny Cross
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Mary, I’ve absolutely loved reading your last few blogs and meant to comment after finishing sanding and sealing the floor in the new porch/completing two dolly’s patchwork quilts and pillows for two wooden prams/dashing into Waitrose for Toblerone – yes, there were some left after the Mary Addison effect…and darting into Lakeland for freezer storage pouches (they’re brilliant, by the way, for soups, bolognaise, etc.). Standing gazing for minutes with two other customers, we sighed as a trio at that gingerbread house mould but put them back on the rack, agreeing or, rather, giving ourselves permission, not to push ourselves even further over the Christmas abyss at this juncture. But I will return, having seen your gorgeous little gingerbread village.

    I recognise the darling little chap in your first photo as well as that beautifully knitted sweater. And your Fairisle one for the same little chap is a triumph. Now must make those Toblerone biscuits after putting the third coat of sealer on the floor.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Well, Penny I feel exhausted just reading your list of achievements. What lucky little girls – I could get quite sidetracked and go into dolly patchwork mode – if I wasn’t thinking about a number of things I am trying to make by Christmas. I do hope at least some relaxation has fitted into your timetable.

  2. Posted December 11, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    It sounds like a wonderful event, which will glow in the memories of all, and not just the children. Worth all the effort!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I think it might Rachel and you’re right it was worth all the effort.

  3. Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Such a fun retelling of the experience. I enjoyed it very much.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Lovely to hear you enjoyed it, Katie.

  4. Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Catching up rather belatedly with some blog reading, and what a lovely post. I am smiling at the thought of trying to cut a candle (or light stick) shaped cavity in an orange (squirts of orange juice in the eye spring to mind). It sounds like tremendous fun though, and the sort of service that makes children want to come to church, and enjoy being there X

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 30, 2015 at 12:15 am | Permalink

      Good to hear from you again, Penny – I can see from your blog how busy you’ve been – icing gingerbread houses as table settings for Christmas lunch in the early hours of Christmas morning shows an extraordinary commitment to giving joy and aesthetic delight.
      No one can put on a Christingle without at least 2 trained nursery teachers – hence no orange juice in the eye! (There was it has to be admitted plenty on the ancient cushion in the pew where my grandson sat.)

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