Sticky moments

christingleForgive me. I’m about to say something that some of you are not going to like at all.

Sorry everyone, but this is probably worse than trainee teachers casting aspertions about the reality of Father Christmas. (The silly fool involved should have told them about Saint Nicholas and had done with it).

My problem is not to do with the objective reality of Santa. It is to do with the origins of the Christingle. Who on earth thought up this sticky, messy nonsense? We are told by well meaning people that it is a tradition that comes from Moravia. Lots of good things come from the Moravian Church, but I struggle to believe that the custom of sticking candles in oranges and decorating them with dolly mixtures and then telling children that it is all about Christmas has anything to do with Moravia. (The Orange and Dolly Mixtures Marketing Board, perhaps, but not the Moravians).

How many oranges are waiting to be plucked from orange groves in Moravia in December I ask you?



  1. Elizabeth says

    Goodness, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Why on earth would anyone stick a candle in an orange?

  2. David |Dah • veed| says

    There was a post about this at MadPriest’s. This silly contraption has not made it over the Atlantic as far as I know.

    Some folks put oranges in Christmas stockings with nuts in the shell and wrapped candies.

    I have mostly seen gum drops as decorations on little chrome or plastic Christmas trees.

  3. Thank you, Father Kelvin. Your bravery and example have helped me, after years of denial, to come out of the closet.

    I am also a Christingle hater.

    There, I said it. I am free at last!

  4. Madpriest – We need to set up a support group for people like us. We are a downtrodden people.

    I was once told whilst ranting about this before, that Canadians make Christingles with apples rather than oranges.

    I’m not sure whether this is either true or helpful.

    Our Canadian Correspondent will no doubt let us know.

  5. We very rarely agree on anything Kelvin, but on this subject I will happily stand alongside you. Christingle loathers of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but your sticky fingers.

  6. Moyra says

    I would be most content never to have to go to or take part in another Christingle service again.

    There are much better ways of getting the Christmas message across to children.

  7. *NOM NOM*. Oops?

  8. Thank you all for your comments. They mean a great deal.

    I had thought I was the only one…

  9. David |Dah • veed| says

    Be glad dear Kelvin, that you are not in children’s ministry!
    The Reverend Kate Bottley, Curate

  10. serena says

    As someone who once had to cut little holes in the tops of many oranges for the purpose of sticking a candle into them, I am totally in agreement with you!!

  11. Oh dear Serena – I do hope it was not me who asked you to sacrifice so many good oranges.

  12. Oh pooh to the lot of you. Mind you, this year I shall be following Fr Simon’s suggestions.

  13. Zebadee says

    Was the picture you show taken from the Clangers? The worst services we can recall have all been Christingle ones

  14. Zebedee – if you cast your mind back far enough, you will remember all too well the particular Christingle service which scarred me for life.

    I blame the parents.

  15. Mary-Cate says

    This Canadian had never heard of Christingles until she was enlightened this AM and whilst we Canadians are guilty of doing all manner of things with apples (dolls with dried apple heads spring to mind) as far as I know no Canadian apples have been sacrificed to the service of Christingles

  16. Ritualist Robert says

    Christingles have made it, for good or for ill, to Australia and New Zealand, although most people regard them with the scepticism that is their due.

  17. Christingles does sound a bit dangerous to the vestments (and perhaps the next sitters in any pews occupied by a Christingle).

    I assume one can’t revive the tradition of beating the bounds of the parish with the kids in tow… instead.

  18. I’d be surprised if a Christingle could pass any health and safety check these days.

    Episcopalians in Scotland don’t have parishes and tend not to think that way. (Thank God). It weas only recently that I discovered that we still have pastoral areas though so far as I can see they serve no practical area.

    Episcopal clergy are not given the cure of souls within a geographic boundary.

  19. Zebadee says

    Kelvin I think that you mean ‘Brown Fowl’s husband’ was to blame

  20. Oh yes. Oh yes.

  21. Lewis says

    I agree I like the idea of the sweets though! Nothing to do with Christmas! I’ve never been to a Christingle service or to Canada!

  22. Lewis says

    (Age 10)

  23. I’ve never been to Canada either Lewis and I like sweets more than I should.

    (Age 42)

  24. David Beadle says

    You are far from the only one. As a dyspraxic, and a semi-rational human being, I find the whole thing quite bewildering.

  25. Liz Badman says

    After years of making them, I am now free and someone else will have to them. I dared to say ‘no’ this year. I see the point of the message, but they are Soooooo messy!

  26. Pamela says

    Rejoice and be glad say I .. a priest to left the CofE for Canada and has yet to have a Christingle service in 8 years. Never seen one advertised which is also a sign of hope…

  27. Keith says

    Am I the only one who sees a striking resembles to the holy handgrenade of Antioch? (Though not as effective)

  28. Meg Rosenfeld says

    Well, little did I know, when I asked for an explanation of “Christingle,” what a gloriously entertaining array of comments would ensue! As far as I know, it’s a custom which has never set foot on American soil. Waste of a good orange, I’d call it. We do have Advent wreaths (an official one in the sanctuary as well as ones of various style in the homes of those who like them–I do). The first one I ever saw was in my high school German classroom in 1961, back when having a religious symbol in a public school wasn’t yet a mortal sin; about the same time, the Advent Calendar began to be popular. Both customs may have come into the Bay Area (California) along with the first stirrings of what would become “Silicon Valley” and a concomitant influx of tech-minded young Germans coming in via Canada. Both are, of course, German in origin. (Now someone will write in to tell me that they’re actually Mixo-Lydian . . .)

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