Its not often you come across a new idea for dealing with the Christingle service, but Brenda Wallace over on Christians leading collective worship facebook group had a flash of inspiration (garnered 92 likes…) and has willingly allowed me to post it here.

In the following, I’ll explain what a Christingle is, what a Christingle means, then how using this method works psychologically…then how to actually do it. Just click down to the ‘what to do’ if you don’t care about the rest of it!

(update 9 December2016) – i’v come across a few more bits and pieces, so do check out the bottom of the post for more Christmas ideas.

What is a Christingle?

Christingles originated in the Moravian Church in Germany mid 18th century when the ministers gave children a lighted candle with a red ribbon.  Christingles traditionally are given out at a dedicated service on the Sunday before Christmas, or on Christmas Eve. This developed over the years to what we know it as today:

  • Orange is the round world
  • Candle is the light in the dark of God’s love (Jesus light of the world)
  • The red ribbon reminds us of the blood that Jesus shed for us when he died
  • The cocktail sticks point in the directions of north, east, south and west…God’s love is for all…and also represent the four seasons
  • The fruit and the nuts, or sweets, are the fruits of the earth/ God’s good gifts to us

How to help kids remember the Christingle Service

From experience…many many of them…whilst I can be as entertaining as the next person, the excitement of snaffling the Christingle sweets is so strong, and the ‘being very careful of the flame’ is so distracting, hoping they remember the symbolism falls on deaf ears. It causes a memory bump which prevents it sinking in…great for when I am performing magic tricks, but hopeless when you want them to remember the Christingle service idea in the first place!

So, you can use a bit of psychological know how to help kids actually remember. The way of doing it, which Brenda stumbled on, is to help create interaction in the mind.


Let me give you an example of COMPLETION. If you see a sentence with a __________ missing in it, what do you do?

Did you put the word, “word” in there? Did it make you pause and try some options before resting on it? Exactly, that little bump got you involved. It was a simple puzzle to solve. Right there is interaction.

So let’s employ that in the Christingle service idea…

What to do

Have prepared THREE Christingles. One missing the ribbon. One missing the fruits. One missing the candle

Have just an orange also available, and, of course, you should have lots of fully made up ones!

You could print off lots of small pictures of Christingles and put them out for people to look at, or else you could put a large image of a Christingle on the screen for a moment or two for people to study. Ask people to concentrate and see if they can remember what’s there.

Keeping it simple will help young children and those with educational needs see it clearly. Ask people to remember each thing in the picture. Give them a few seconds.

Here’s a picture which might help

Christingle service idea picture

Turn the picture off (or ask everyone to put the pictures out of sight)

Show the orange alone. Ask everyone if they have any idea what the orange means in a Christingle? (the world)

Now show each Christingle in turn with something missing.

Get the children to work out what is missing on each of the Christingles each time.

This is what Brenda suggests (it points to the Children’s Society use of the Christingle):

Use the one with no ribbon to explain that some children (and adults) don’t have much love in their lives.
Use the one with no sweets to explain that some people don’t have much to eat or special treats at Christmas.
Use the one with no candle to explain that some children’s lives are darkened through violence, unhappiness, poor housing, etc.
Then use the complete christingle to show how the Children’s Society helps to bring Jesus’s love, light and care to unhappy children.

Each time the children work out what is missing, they are paying attention and rooting the idea in their heads through that psychological trick of having to complete something. Using this idea built around the Children’s Society also stops it being a ‘hey, lets go get sweets’ to ‘this thing means something’ which points outwards, rather than inwards.

If you then go and bulid the rest of the service around this idea of reaching out, you should have a full outline.

Christingle Resources:

Alternative to candles? Don’t miss out if there are concerns over safety. One church I know use snap and light glow sticks. Don’t worry about chemicals these days, perfectly safe. (amazon affiliate links)

You can read more details about the customs of Christingles

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Update resources:

https://reverendally.org/2014/11/13/put-the-sparkle-into-your-christingle-talk/ Sparkly christingle talk

http://spiritualchild.co.uk/The_first_Christingle.pdf a bit more on the first Christingle

Loads of Christmas YOUtube videos!  Drop them into the service, or use them any time over Christmas:

19 Fantastic Christmas & Advent Videos for 2016