How to decorate a paschal candle

Updated February 21, 2017

A paschal candle is a religious symbol that Catholics use during Easter. It is a symbolic representation of the light of the world. Paschal candles are traditionally used in the Easter vigil services, but many families make them at home as well to celebrate Easter. While decorating paschal candles allows for a certain amount of creativity, there are several symbols which should be the main focus of the design.

Spread a newspaper onto a table or other flat work surface and set the beeswax candle into the centre of the paper.

Carve a cross into the centre of candle using a sharp object, such as a pottery tool. The cross should be the largest symbol on the candle.

Carve the Greek letter alpha into the end of the left horizontal arm of the cross. The letter alpha looks like a large lower case "a" (see Resources).

Carve the Greek letter omega into right horizontal arm of the cross. The letter omega looks a little like an upside-down horseshoe (see Resources).

Carve the current year into the candle by placing each number of the year into a separate quadrant of the cross.

Press a single clove into the centre of the cross using your fingers. Then, place a clove at each of the four ends of the cross.

Open a jar of red oil paint and dip a thin artist's brush into it. Brush the paint onto each of the carved lines of the candle to emphasise them. Allow the candle to sit for approximately 30 minutes to allow the paint to dry.


To further embellish the candle, you can carve additional religious symbols into it, or attach religious cutout images using glue or melted wax.

Things You'll Need

  • Beeswax candle
  • Newspaper
  • Pottery tool
  • Red oil paint
  • Thin artist's paintbrush
  • Cloves
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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.