Christingle has its origins in Eastern Europe and The Christingle Service is a Service of candle lights where very many years ago people gathered in the street, sang carols and collected gifts to help the less fortunate in the community.
It is a beautiful candle light service of hymns, carols, recitations and bible readings, but Christingle goes beyond a candle light service and it tells a story. A story is told with the symbolic use of the following items:
An orange representing the world.
A red ribbon tied around the orange to symbolize the blood of Jesus shed for his people.
Tooth picks decorated with dried fruits and sweets are placed at the four corners of the orange representing all the people of the world. A lighted candle in the centre of the orange represents the light of Christ to the world.
THE SPIRIT OF SCROOGE
Every year as a token of their gratitude the people of Norway present Britain with a 70 foot Christmas tree which stands in Trafalgar square.
However the tree has not always been received in the same spirit as it was given at times the discord has soured the season of goodwill.
In 1960 Westminster City Council wanted to charge the Norwegians for the electricity used to light the tree but thankfully Parliament intervened.
While In 1980 the very same council tried to stop the tradition altogether by refusing to accept the tree in an attempt to save the £5,000 cost.
Good sense again prevailed and now the costs are met by the Greater London Authority.
Other bureaucrats have tried to interfere and spoil Christmas this time from Brussels and they complained about the breaking of import restrictions.
The tree has also over the years suffered physical damage, on a number of occasions from high winds and on one occasion it was attacked with a chain saw by anti-war protestors.
In 1987 protesters actually chained themselves to the tree although I don’t know what their cause was.
In the Roman Catholic areas of southern Germany, such as in Bavaria, Sankt Nikolaus still appears with a flowing beard and a bishop's staff.
In preparation of his arrival Houses are given a thorough clean and children shine their shoes or boots.
The children put a letter to St Nicholas along with carrots for his white horse in their shoes and these are left either by the children’s bed or on a window sill. During the night Sankt Nikolaus goes from house to house visiting the children and if they have been good, he fills, shoe or boot with delicious fruits, nuts and sweets but if they have been bad they may only find potatoes, coal, or twigs.
The Germans love to decorate their homes at Christmas and one of the favourite forms of German decoration is for the window.
The decoration consists of a small wooden frames holding a picture made from coloured glass or plastic with an electric candle light behind it.
These lights look very beautiful when viewed from outside at night.
A popular German Christmas decoration is an Adventskranz which consists of a wreath of leaves with four candles.
Advent which means 'coming' is the 4 week period before Christmas and on each Sunday of Advent, another candle is lit.
In Germany Der Weihnachtsmann or Father Christmas brings presents in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve after people return home from church they find the presents under the Christmas tree.
One person in the family will ring a bell and call everyone to come to the room.
THE SPECIAL CHILDREN'S SAINT
In Austria St. Nicholas is the special children's saint and he is honoured throughout Austria because It is said that God rewarded Nicholas for his generosity by allowing him to return to earth each year to bring gifts to all the good children.
THE NATIVITY SCENE
The nativity scene with the baby Jesus Christ laying in the manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph the shepherds and the wise men has long been a favourite Christmas decoration. It has been used for centuries to bring the story of Christmas alive.
It was Francis of Assisi who instituted the custom of the nativity scene after receiving permission from the pope.
Who was renowned for his love of animals, so at Christmas in 1224 he erected the first nativity scene in a cave outside the town of Greccio in Italy.
It did not resemble the type of scene you might see nowadays it was not a hand crafted nor mass-produced but a live scene.
Parishioners played the parts much as children do in the school nativity plays today.
People would gather to watch the spectacle and Francis stood in front of the manger reciting the appropriate gospel followed by a sermon.
The first Christmas card was printed in England in 1843, for a busy man called Sir Henry Cole.
Because he was such a busy man he wanted to save some of the time he had to spend on his Christmas correspondence.
However his motive was not merely to ease the burden of his letter writing he was also a tremendous advocate of the slowly expanding postal system.
Sir Henry Cole’s first commercial Christmas card sold 1000 copies at one shilling each.
But it was not until the 1860s that card production accelerated with the advent of cheaper printing methods.
Then in 1870 a half penny stamp for sending cards was introduced by the Post Office.
SANS DAY CAROL
The "Sans Day Carol," is a traditional carol from Cornwall.
The carol focuses on the aspects of the holly's symbolism in the form of the different coloured berries.
Red berries represent the blood of Jesus and white berries symbolize his purity.
Green berries represent the cross upon which Christ was crucified and black symbolize his death.