Christingles are visual aids in themselves.
The orange represents the world, and the dried fruit on cocktail
sticks represent the fruits of the earth, given to us by God. Actually the
things on cocktail sticks are usually sweets, despite the phrase "the dolly
mixtures of the earth" being sadly absent from most translations of the Bible.
The candle represents Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12);
the true light that gives light to everyone (John 1:9); and the red
ribbon represents his blood, because he died for us.
invented by the Children's Society and there is a section on their web site
about them, including a
cartoon by Dave Walker. I myself have drawn a
If you have a Christingle service you will need a very
large number of oranges, reels of red sticky tape, cocktail sticks,
dried fruit (or sweets), and candles. Then you will need to explain the
symbolism of the various parts of the Christingle, and what could possibly be a
better way to do that than with a 4 foot diameter giant Christingle?
First things first: safety
At Christingle services small children are given oranges, into
which several sharp cocktail sticks and a lighted candle have been stuck . You
need to make sure that the small children are not hurt. Here are some hints 'n'
- Cut out a circle of card or aluminium foil, make a hole in the
centre and push the candle through it before you put the candle in the orange.
This will catch drips of wax.
- Tell the children to keep their Christingles upright and
at arm's length...
- ...and tell them: don't jingle your Christingle.
- Tie back long hair. Provide elastic bands for people who
haven't brought one.
- Make sure children with lit Christingles don't stand close
behind someone else.
- Keep still. Have the children stand in a big ring around the
congregation, holding unlit Christingles. Then light the candles, sing a song
and tell them to blow out the candles before they go back to their seats.
Making the giant Christingle
Avid readers of desert island church (if such people exist) will
have spotted more than a passing resemblance to the
egg. If you have made one you can recycle several of the bits when you make
the other. Or - and this is more likely - making one will completely put you
off the idea of making the other.
These instructions assume that you are
making a one-piece Christingle - adapt the Easter egg instructions if you need
You need materials.
- 2 sheets of MDF each 2440 x 1220 x 6mm thick - half a sheet
will be left over for your next project.
- 20 bits of wood 44 x 22 x 40mm long
- 1 bit of wood 44 x 22 x 85mm long
- 1 bit of wood 44 x 22 x 900mm long
- Lots of screws
- Some long elastic bands
- Chicken wire - best to use a type with a fairly small mesh
- Lining paper
- Wallpaper paste
- A large cardboard tube. Mine was 85mm diameter x 1190mm - it
was from a roll of paper for an A0 inkjet plotter.
- Orange emulsion paint
- 4 garden canes
- 4 oranges
- red paper, about 300mm wide and 4m long.
- Electric screwdriver
- Staple gun
- Wire cutters
- One handed clamps like this:
And this is what you do:
- Using a jigsaw, cut out seven rings from one sheet of MDF. I
have drawn them to scale, with dimensions and everything, in
- Cut rings 1 and 2 to form three 120° sections.
- Also using the jigsaw, cut out six ribs from the other sheet of
the pdf has a scale drawing showing dimensions. Type A and
type B ribs have 'feet' on the bottom to stop the egg falling over. So that all
the ribs fit on half a sheet of MDF, I've shown two of the feet cut out
separately from the type B ribs.
- Fix the feet to the type B ribs using screws.
- Cut small slots in the rings and the ribs so that you can slot
them together (see diagram). In theory these slots should be 6mm wide and 25mm
long, to give 50mm overlap. In practice your measurements will be out somewhere
and you'll need to make some of the slots a bit longer to get things to fit.
Slots only work away from the ends of the bits of ring - in the other places
you need bits of wood to join the sections of MDF together.
- Fix the 40mm long pieces of wood to the ribs. They are needed
at the bottom of the type A and type B ribs. Hold them in place with your
one-handed clamps while you drill pilot holes and put the screws in.
- Assemble all the ribs and rings. It helps to have someone else
to hold things while you do this.
- Stand the type A and type B ribs up vertically and fix rings 3
to 7. As you fix each ring you might need to 'ease' the slot joints on the
previous rings (ie disengage them a bit).
- Then screw rings 1 and 2 to the bits of wood on the
- ... and finally fix the type C ribs, slotting them in from
inside the rings.
- If the slot joints are a bit loose, put a screw in the back of
the rib and pass a long elastic band from the screw, round the front of the
ring and back to the screw.
- Drill holes in eight of the short bits of wood. The holes need
to be slightly larger than your garden canes. Fix the bits of wood to the ribs
where the cocktail sticks would be on a 'real' Christingle.
- Assemble the various parts that hold the cardboard tube
'candle'. The 900mm long piece of wood is screwed across ring 5. Round off the
ends of the 85mm long piece so that it fits inside the tube and screw it to the
middle of the long part. Screw the rectangular bit of MDF with a big hole in
(part D) to ring 7. Put the tube through the hole.
At this point it looks brilliant and you will feel very pleased
with yourself. Make the most of this feeling; everything is about to get
Really you need to do this next bit in a garage or large
workshop with a door that is more than 1.22m wide. If you work in the house you
will make a terrible mess and take up far too much room (unless you live in a
stately home or something). I don't have a garage or a workshop or a stately
home so I worked out in the garden where it was November and cold and damp and
- Cover the frame with chicken wire, stapling the wire onto the
side of the rings. Wear work gloves so you don't scratch yourself, and make
sure that there are no stray bits of wire pointing outwards where they could
- Start at the front. You will need several widths of chicken
wire, and you'll need to make them narrower at the top and the bottom so you
don't have too many layers overlapping.
- Push and pull the chicken wire to get a nice curved orange
shape. Spend a bit of time on this - the smoother the curves, the better the
Christingle will look.
- Cover the chicken wire with papier maché. How easy it is
to write this! How long it takes! Your Christingle is 1.22m across and has a
surface area of over 4 square metres. It needs to be covered with several
layers of papier maché, using dozens of narrow strips liberally coated
in wallpaper paste.
- The first bits need to be wrapped around the chicken wire,
trapping the end like this:
- If you just fold it over one bit of wire and try to stick the
paper back to itself it will spring away and won't be properly fixed:
- Eventually the whole Christingle will be covered. Make yourself
a cup of tea. Have a chocolate biscuit. You deserve it.
- When the papier maché is dry, paint it orange.
- Paint the tube white, like a candle.
- Poke holes through the papier maché for the garden canes
and put oranges on them for the fruit of the earth.
- Wrap a bit of red paper round the Christingle, for the
- You'll need to take the Christingle to church in a large van.
It's 4 feet across and won't fit in your car (unless you have a very big
After the Christingle service, remove the wire netting and papier
maché, and throw it away. Tidy up all the staples that have fallen on
the floor, dismantle the frame and save it for another time (or to make a
'Exploded' view of
the frame. Actually the (vertical) ribs go inside the (horizontal) rings but
this makes the diagram less clear, and more difficult to draw.
What feels like
many hours later, it has acquired more papier maché. It really did take
a very long time to cover it completely. By then it was dark and I was so fed
up with it, and cold, and wet, and covered in wallpaper paste, that I didn't
take any more pictures.