A UNIQUE tradition centred around a citrus fruit will be celebrated at an Oxford school.

Rye St Antony in Headington is set to mark its annual Tangerine Party, which sees staff, parents and pupils gather to receive a tangerine.

The decades-old event is believed to date back to the Second World War, when gifts of fruit were donated to pupils during rationing.

This year’s event will take place on Friday, December 15, and also features festive hymn singing and the sharing of Christmas cake.

Sean Willis, lay chaplain of the private school in Pullens Lane, said: “Baffled parents must wonder why they are invited to a Tangerine Party before collecting their children at the end of the Michaelmas term.

“The party has grown over the years, but the idea of a carol singsong has remained the same.

“Tangerines have been supplemented by an enormous Christmas cake, which the headteacher [Alison Jones] cuts along with the youngest child in the school.”

Dr Willis described the day and boarding school’s traditions as ‘a joy to uphold’.

He added: “It is fantastic to be able to carry them forwards through the 21st century.”

The Catholic school, which teaches girls aged three to 18 and boys aged three to 11, started Christmas celebrations on Monday with an Advent-themed morning.

Year 6 pupils organised games and craft activities to teach younger peers about the meaning of the Advent period.

On Sunday the whole school will unite for a service and carols at the Church of St Anthony of Padua in Headington.

Choirs from the prep school and senior school will perform songs with accompaniment from the school orchestra, alongside readings of bible passages from pupils.