Monday, November 24, 2014

Jesus Was An Orange

Following on from my last post I had a look into oranges. Some interesting stuff. Firstly it turns out that oranges have been associated with Jesus. According to Wikipedia in some countries blood oranges were seen as a symbol of the death of Jesus.

There's also the tradition of Christingle where children decorate an orange with a red ribbon and a candle, to symbolise Jesus and his love for the world. The red ribbon supposedly represents the blood of Jesus and the candle represents Jesus as the light of the world. Four cocktail sticks are also pushed into the orange with dried fruit on the ends, representing the four seasons, although that seems more suggestive of a cross to my eyes. Maybe it was similar to the Rosicrucian Rosy-Cross, only in this case with an orange in substitute of the rose. An Orange-Cross.

I remember being forced to make one of these Christingle oranges as a child and thinking "what da fuck?! why are we doing this?" but looking back it seems quite interesting and worthwhile that I did it. It's only took me twenty years to realise that though.

The name Christingle is quite interesting too. According to Wiki it's from the German Christkindl - meaning Christ child. Kind obviously meaning child in German. However, my immediate sense of it was fire. Kindle as in kindle a fire, or as in candle. Kindle and candle are probably the same word anyway. Vowels are interchangeable and the C and the K are pronounced the same, so it's easy to see how candle could be pronounced kindle and vice versa (just as red and rud, as in ruddy, are no doubt the same word, just with different vowel spellings).

The idea that vowels are interchangeable might seem strange at first and a bit of a stretch, but you've just got to imagine how different people with different accents might pronounce the same word differently just to see how true this is. For example, take the word garden. Someone from Newcastle with a Geordie accent may pronounce this word to sound more like gorden, the A becoming an O sound. Whereas someone with a more southern accent may pronounce the exact same word as gerden.

When you look at language like this you realise that consonants are like the hard skeleton of words and that vowels are more like the soft fleshy tissue. When words were first put down into written language variations in speech were no doubt reflected as people simply spelled things phonetically as they spoke them. There was no standardised way of spelling and this would've led to many words being duplicated or rendered in different ways. Over time the common origin of these words would then become obscured.

Going back to Christingle though another thing which lends a little weight to the idea that kindl is candle, is the fact that the word ingle is said to come from the Gaelic word aingeal meaning fire or fireplace. (The word angel also comes to mind actually). Christ-candle would also make more sense due to the fact that it describes what it actually is - a candle symbolising Christ.

In other posts on this blog I've mentioned the relationship between the Pumpkin, red hair and the Protestant religion. It seems like we're looking at a similar thing with the orange here. The Halloween pumpkin is a round, orange vegetable with a candle stuck inside. The Christingle orange is a round, orange fruit with a candle stuck on top. Maybe they both share a common origin.

On the Wikipedia page it states that Christingle began with the Moravian Church and dates from 1747 when a bishop named Johannes de Watteville created the ritual in order to explain the meaning of Christ to children. However, I would suspect that maybe it has deeper origins. The Moravian Church was supposedly the very first Protestant church, so maybe it goes back to the heart of the Protestant movement.

On a final note regarding oranges, when looking up the etymology of the word I found that it originally came from the Sanskrit word for orange tree - nāraṅga, via Persia (nārang) and Arabia (nāranj). It eventually reached us via the Old French orenge, which they got via the Old Provençal auranja. However, looking at the word auranja I wondered if maybe it was confluent with the word aura, as in halo. Maybe the orange, like the pumpkin, was seen as a symbol of the halo around the head of Christ and the other saints. Or being an orange ball, as symbolic of the sun itself, which in turn brings us back to the son Jesus.

Maybe red (and/or blond) hair was seen in a similar light, as a physical symbol of something spiritual.

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