12 February 2015

decorating the paschal candle by hand

Last year, I heard one priest from the Diocese in Europe comment that his church budget would not stretch to a paschal candle with the year on it, and that even the purchase of the paschal candle he did have was something he'd had to defend.

store display of paschal candles
(licensed photo by Gagorski, cropped by Storyteller)

Just a few days later, I came across a lovely blog post, also from the Diocese in Europe, and I thought, Here is a possible solution to those financial concerns. Bishop David Hamid wrote that in St Margaret's Anglican Episcopal Church in Budapest, they have a tradition of buying a large, plain candle and having the children decorate it.

Eurobishop: Children of St Margaret's Budapest prepare the paschal candle: Krisztus feltámadt! ... These photos show them hard at work in Sunday School on Palm Sunday and presenting the finished product to the congregation.

Decorating actual candles, or doing paper-crafts of gluing bits of paper to reflect the way a paschal candle is decorated - this kind of work is often found in a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium. Leslie Swaim-Fox is one of a number of bloggers who have posted about this:

Thoughts from the Sheepfold: The Paschal Candle: The paschal candle is a symbol of the Risen Christ which speaks very powerfully to children. ... I love the words that we say with the children while they press the wax pieces onto the candle.

Leslie explains in the comments to another post that she uses thin sheets of colored wax, cutting out the shapes they will need with a craft knife. Jessica, at the Shower of Roses blog, made a more elaborate candle by using not only colored wax but also acrylic gems and gold metallic cord. Jessica has also listed several other ways of decorating a plain candle here (scroll down to "Easter Paschal Candle"). If you're not up to doing this craft but would like a paschal candle for the home, you can simply print out a design and wrap it around a candle (Jennifer at Family in Feast and Feria offers a free printable every year).

Depending on the age of the children who do this, your candle may not be as "perfect" as a store-bought one, but you will have saved money AND involved the children in a useful and meaningful way in the liturgical life of your church.

(public domain photo by Rabanus Flavus, cropped by Storyteller)

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