Essex cathedral bans Christingle candles

CHILDREN at one of the biggest Christingle Services in Essex will not be allowed to put lighted candles in their oranges this year in the wake of new safety fears, it has emerged.

By Roddy Ashworth

CHILDREN at one of the biggest Christingle Services in Essex will not be allowed to put lighted candles in their oranges this year in the wake of new safety fears, it has emerged.

Instead, youngsters at Chelmsford Cathedral's Christmas Eve celebration will be using non-flamable glowsticks similar to those waved around at rock festivals.

But yesterday, one of the family event's organisers, Richard Spilsbury, said that the move was not in response to political correctness but instead the genuine concerns of some parents at last year's event.


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“Last year the cathedral was jam packed with people, and it was very difficult to physically move around,” he said.

“I know it sounds a bit of a kill-joy, but we thought we would give this alternative a try.

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“What happens at the service is the children process to the altar where they hand over cardboard tubes containing money for the Children's Society.

“They then go back to their seats where they are given a Christingle, which is an orange with four spikes on it - with sweets - and a candle in the middle.

“The idea is they then form a circle with the candles lit, the lights go down and it really looks very magical.

“Last year there were so many you couldn't do this and we had problems getting children back to their seats.”

Mr Spilsbury said that last year it was so difficult to move around, supervisors could not light all of the Christingles themselves and instead had to rely on the congregation lighting them from one to the other.

“Things were so crammed some parents were very worried about candles and childrens' hair,” he said.

“We're not talking about 10 or 20 here - there were well-over 300 Christingles given out.”

Mr Spilsbury said the idea of using glowsticks instead of candles had been proposed by the Childrens' Society itself as an alternative.

“We thought we would give it a try. They glow quite brightly,” he explained.

He added that the sticks were activated by being shaked or bent. “We haven't quite worked out when to do it - there is a lot of preparation.

“But if it doesn't work, we will go back to candles. The thing is, we don't want to spoil things, but we also don't want to put anyone in danger.”

nThe Christmas Eve Christingle Service takes place at Chelmsford Cathedral at 3pm.

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