Monday, April 02, 2012

Easter Week Ideas

I think Easter is the best holiday. It's connected to so many important events in Christ's life (while Christmas is just connected to one). It doesn't come with a lot of stress or expectations (there's not a lot of outside pressure from society to do a whole lot about Easter). And there are so many fun, simple, beautiful things we can do with our families to really celebrate Easter.

Here's what works for us:

First of all, I get out the couple of little Easter decorations we own (takes about 2 minutes - I'm just not that into bunnies and pastels so I've never found much I really wanted as far as Easter decor) and add some fresh spring flowers and a bowl of pretty dyed eggs and voila - the house is all decorated for Easter.

Then we have special (but very simple) activities we do each day of the week leading up to Easter. Thanks to great ideas from books and friends and some trial and error, our Easter Week evolved into what I've laid out below. Most of the ideas below take 5-10 minutes and require little or no supplies.

SUNDAY: On Palm Sunday, we read from the scriptures about Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then act it out (using weeds for palms and Jared for a donkey...). The kids yell "Hosana!" and we talk about how wonderful it must have been for Jesus to see so many people embracing his message of love.

MONDAY: On Monday we read from the scriptures and re-enact Jesus cleansing the temple (and some years we've gone to visit a holy place like a temple or cathedral to feel the peace there and imagine how it must have felt to Jesus to see people showing so little reverence for the temple). We talk about how important it is to keep sacred things sacred and talk about what the word "sacred" means.

TUESDAY (or Wednesday): On Tuesday we dye eggs (the first one has to be red according to Bulgarian custom - I lived in Bulgaria for a while - the red represents death and the egg represents new life - great symbol of death and life coming together).  We talk about how eggs represent new life. We all have fun coming up with creative new ideas. And I like to shine up the prettiest ones with oil and put them in a nice bowl as a decoration. It used to be a crazy ordeal trying to dye eggs without any big fat permanent messes but it's actually been very enjoyable the past few years!

WEDNESDAY (or Tuesday): On Wednesday we talk about Christ's parables and miracles (We have some good kids' books about the parables and the video "Finding Faith in Christ" is great to show for this - beautifully depicts several of Christ's miracles - you can find it on YouTube HERE - it's like 10 minutes long).

THURSDAY: On Thursday we do a simple passover supper with lentil stew and pita bread (you could get into a real passover supper or keep it super simple with cheese and pita bread...) and talk about the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane. We talk about the importance of the sacrament. The kids get the most beautiful looks of empathy on their faces as we talk about Jesus bleeding from every pore as he took the sins of the world upon him. We like to look up photos of famous art depicting the Last Supper as well (just google "Last Supper art"). 

FRIDAY: On Friday we watch a movie called "The Lamb of God" that nicely depicts the last few days of Christ's life (you can find it HERE) and/or a clip from the series "Jesus of Nazareth" (this award-winning mini-series was done in the 70's and offers lots of good stuff - a good clip of the lead up to the crucifixion and the actual event is HERE) and talk about the sadness of Christ's death. We talk about why people call this day "Good Friday" - what Jesus did for us was so very very good although it was so very very sad. These topics can be tricky with younger children - this is hard, heavy stuff. But I've found that my young kids (starting maybe around 3 or 4 years old) have been able to understand things and feel empathy and love way beyond their years as we've watched these videos and talked about things.

SATURDAY: Saturday is for the Easter Bunny and egg hunts and all that fun stuff. We usually have a neighborhood egg hunt on Saturday morning. The kids and I make simple fliers and take them around to all the neighbors plus send out some emails. We ask that every child bring 10 plastic eggs filled with candy or stickers or other prizes. Usually someone does a few "money" eggs with quarters and one time even a dollar (that was a big hit!). When everyone arrives for the hunt, the other moms and I keep the kids engaged in some games inside ("duck, duck, goose" becomes "egg, egg, bunny") while the dads hide the eggs in a clearly defined area (usually 3-4 front yards in a row). Then we sent out the little kids first for eggs followed by the medium kids then the big kids. At the end, we give a prize to the child who found the most eggs then we usually divide up all the eggs somewhat evenly and hang out with the neighbors eating candy for a while. We make deviled eggs for lunch and eat more candy. It's a fun day. 

SUNDAY: On Easter morning, as soon as we wake up while we're still in our pj's,  we watch a video clip of the resurrection (the end of "The Lamb of God" linked above is nice or there's a good clip about the resurrection HERE). Then the kids head into the living room where they find some new Easter clothes (just spring church clothes they need anyway - often just a new shirt or tie for the boys and Eliza usually gets a new dress) and their Easter Baskets waiting for them (see photo below for details - the baskets contain very simple and church-oriented gifts). Then we make and eat eggs benedict and get ready for church (or if we have early church, we just have some cereal and come home after church for a special Easter brunch - eggs benedict is our tradition).  After church, we do a special Easter Egg hunt for plastic eggs filled with symbols of Christ's last week on earth (a piece of bread for the Last Supper, a rock for the tomb, a little cross made of sticks, some olive leaves for the Garden of Gethsemane, some nails, some thorns...). I think we're going to make this whole eggs and symbols thing into a bigger thing now that the kids are bit older - I love the ideas offered HERE at "The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking". 

Our traditions are still evolving - and probably always will be. I'm always adding in new ideas people share with me and I've taken out a lot of ideas that proved to be more trouble than they're worth. I loved a bunch of the Easter ideas shared HERE at Life as Mom (a beautiful Christian blog).

The main thing is that our children are really starting to understanding the real meaning of Easter. I'm so grateful for the chance I have, through simple activities like those outlined above, to bear my testimony of Jesus daily to my children during Easter Week. 

I hope my kids will always think of Easter as a magical and meaningful holiday - a great combination of fun and thought and treats and tokens of the first Easter.

Here are a few pictures to give you some ideas of what some past Easters looked like. But I don't have photos that really capture the best stuff we do at Easter. Photo of the kids acting out Palm Sunday  or eating lentil stew or watching a video of Jesus or our family reading scriptures together can't even begin to capture what we really experience as we truly celebrate the real meaning of Easter together.

Passover supper (green lentil stew, pita, grapes, figs)

Neighborhood egg hunt

Easter baskets and new clothes on Easter morning - everyone got a little toy, two new books (one "regular," one Sunday-themed church bag book or coloring book), 
a chocolate bunny, and a handful of little chocolate eggs and jelly beans
Easter outfits - orange and blue was the theme in 2009 - got to go with
what's on sale combined with what's been handed down from cousins, etc.!
Easter 2008 - look how cute and little these kids were!

What are your favorite Easter traditions?  


charity eyre wright said...

oh, man! am i lucky or what to get in on this this year??? email me back saren so we can make plans.

Linda said...

Love these ideas Saren. Where were you when we were raising our kids (grin). You have taken Easter to a whole new level!

Love you for it!

Kathryn said...


I'm trying to be better about commenting on posts now that I've joined the blogging community. So here goes--

I love the idea of making Easter Week more meaningful. When our kids were little I liked to refer to the book "To Dance With God" by Gertrude Mueller Nelson. She has some lovely ideas and recipes for families to create daily celebrations around religious holidays.

We're excited to see you this week and continue one of our Easter traditions--spending time with you and Jared and the kids! Safe travels!

bjahlstrom said...

I think it's pretty fantastic that you celebrate Easter Week--all week long. I have a friend who is Christian and said when she moved to Utah, she felt disappointed that there seemed to be very little focus on Easter during Holy Week. I started to wonder why I don't celebrate all week in my LDS tradition...

So, it's really cool to see these ideas, and I think I'll use them with my own family!

Amy Makechnie said...

Thanks for this post. I'd like to do better with my children next year. I felt a little empty all week until today, when I pondered Christ's life and sacrifice and went to church and felt of the spirit. These are great ideas for any family. Thank you!

Georgina Close said...

Thank you so much for these GREAT ideas! So grateful for your time in putting them on POM site and here!
xo Georgina


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