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Advent Candles

The start of Advent

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the use of candles as a starting point for thinking about Advent.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some candles of different shapes and sizes, including birthday candles.
  • You will also need an Advent candle. If an Advent candle is not available, an image is available at:
  • Note: if possible, this assembly should be held on the first Monday in Advent.


  1. Show the various candles to the children.

    Invite some volunteers to the front to hold the candles, which should remain unlit. If scented candles are available, invite the children to smell the candles and perhaps decide on their favourite fragrance.

  2. Talk about how candles have become very popular in recent times. Some people have candles in their home because they like the shape or colour, so they are used simply for decoration. Others choose candles for their smell, such as lavender or rose.

    Ask the children whether they can think of any other reasons why people might buy candles.

    One example might be celebratory candles, such as those on a birthday cake. If there is a child who has a birthday during the week, you may like to ask the child to hold the unlit birthday candles while the rest of the children sing ‘Happy birthday’.

  3. Lead the children on to thinking about the original use of candles: for giving light. Today, candles might only be used to give light in an emergency such as a power cut. However, in the past, people needed candles so that they could see at night!

  4. Ask the children whether any of them have an Advent calendar.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that, as we move towards Christmas, some people count down the days by using an Advent calendar, which might have chocolate or a little picture inside. Others use an Advent candle to count down the days.

  5. Show the Advent candle, or the image of it, to the children.

    Explain that Advent candles are sold in shops so that people can count down to Christmas. An Advent candle has 25 sections marked on it, in the same way that an Advent calendar usually has 24 or 25 doors.

    For Christians, the season of Advent is a time for looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Advent is an exciting time, with lots of preparations being made for Christmas Day.

    Advent means ‘coming’, so Christians remember how everything was prepared for the coming of Jesus into the world.

    In this country, Advent starts at the darkest time of the year. It usually begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and lasts until the bells ring in the Christmas festival at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Time for reflection

Christians believe that Jesus is the light of the world. The Advent candle reminds Christians that the coming of Jesus turns darkness into light.

As we move towards Christmas and get excited about what lies ahead, let’s pause to remember the real meaning of Christmas: the arrival of a tiny baby who would change the world.

Light the Advent candle, if using.

In a moment of stillness, ask the children to focus their attention on the Advent candle and to think about what it stands for.

After a period of silence, ask the children to listen to the words of the following prayer.

Dear God,
Thank you for the Advent candle.
In the dark days of the year, it reminds us
To think about Jesus coming into the world to bring light, joy and peace.

At the end of the prayer, extinguish the Advent candle, if using. Explain to the children that the candle will be lit each day in assembly until school breaks up for the Christmas holidays.


‘Shine, Jesus, shine’ by Graham Kendrick, available at: (4.18 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. Encourage the children to learn about and make an Advent ring (also known as a wreath or crown), which is used in many churches during Advent. It usually has four candles round the outside - one for each Sunday in Advent - and a large, white candle in the centre to represent Jesus. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

  2. Make a large wall-mounted Advent calendar, with each child painting or drawing a picture associated with the Christmas story to go behind the numbered doors. Ask a child to open the appropriate door each day. They will enjoy seeing their picture appearing as a surprise on one of the days!
Publication date: November 2022   (Vol.24 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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