On Christmas Eve, our local church held a crib and christingle service. I had no idea what it meant or what to expect but thought it would be something nice for us to do as a family this year. So a little before 3pm, off we went for a Christmas Eve walk. We arrived just as the church bells chimed the hour and stepped inside to find the church absolutely packed. We squeezed into the back as someone escorted out a stray cat who apparently had wanted to join the fun.
All the children were invited to the front to listen and watch a short telling of the nativity story. I’d been told that all the children dress up as a character from the nativity story so Lena came prepared with angel wings and a halo. Jason walked her to the front where she made friends with the boy next to her and chatted his ear off for the duration of the play. Meanwhile, I was about to explode from the cuteness and proceeded to take a ridiculous amount of photos.
Two older girls read the story of Jesus’ birth while puppets made by the children helped bring it to life. Lena loved it and we could hear her calling out everything she was seeing. The star, apparently, was very exciting as she yelled and pointed then ran back to us, making sure we noticed it as well.
After the nativity story, it was time to light the christingle. According to the church website, christingle services originated in the Moravian church sometime around 1747. It didn’t come to England until 1968 and it is now primarily a fundraising event for the Children’s Society. The christingle itself is symbolic and consists of the following:
- an orange – this represents the world
- a red ribbon around it for the blood of Jesus
- 4 skewers with fruits and sweets – for the fruits of the earth and the four seasons
- a lighted candle representing Christ, the light of the world
After lighting our candles, everyone joined together for some Christmas carols by the light of the christingle and stained glass windows. I would guess most of the village was at the service and I couldn’t help but smile and be grateful yet again for this life we’ve been given. In a week’s time, I went from playing in an arena with thousands of people to watching my daughter dressed as an angel, singing Christmas carols in a church dating back to the 12th century. It was the perfect way to wrap up our Christmas celebrations before heading home to enjoy a family meal and a few presents. This will definitely become an annual tradition for us as long as we are here in England.