Alleluia! He has Risen!
My husband and I always joke that he’s a Franciscan and I’m Dominican… I see Easter as the pinnacle of the Liturgical calendar and he very much prefers Christmas. We have had playful arguments for many years about this… but in response, we try to present both events as equally deserving of celebration to our children.
It is extremely difficult to delay the festivities and relish in the anticipation with either one of these Liturgical events within our society. Christmas decorations seem to be out by Halloween, but then the Christmas trees are on the street for trash pickup before New Years Day. Chocolate bunnies abound after Mardi Gras but disappear from sight (or just put on sale) by Divine Mercy Sunday. Personally, I think that the holiday mania that hits as quickly as it vanishes reflects our society’s need for “the next big thing.” We’re desperate for an all-encompassing celebration of life and its depth—a depth that could only really be satisfied by our Creator. It’s like we’re fixated on that golden calf, while the Lamb of God is right there.
So, how do we truly enjoy Easter?
First of all, we need to build the anticipation during Lent and ensure that it has a solemn observance in our homes. Audrey has a fantastic post on Lent with Little People . This is also a great time to do some spring-cleaning, donate gently used toys and clothing, and maybe take a retreat or do a service project. Holy Week should receive a special, active participation. For example, pray the Stations of the Cross (I love this version from Family in Feast and Feria, bake unleavened bread and have grape juice on Holy Thursday (discuss the Institution of the Eucharist with a Mass kit, and try to promote quiet in the home on Good Friday (we unplug starting from after dinner on Holy Thursday until after the Good Friday service).
Once Easter arrives, the excitement should be tangible.
I always loved the Easter Vigil for that very reason…the smell of incense and Easter lilies, the spreading light from the bonfire to the candles, the sound of the first Alleluia, and the witnessing of new life through Baptism…it all invokes such a basic need to connect with the Author of Life. Of course, you don’t want a dichotomy in which children associate Lent with bad and Easter with good; instead, foster a bittersweet experience of Lent with Easter always on the horizon. After all, that is what makes the Cross of Christ all the more beautiful: the Resurrection beyond it.
Admittedly, not all of these ideas are religious, but my hope is that they promote bonding time and an experience of joy!
Ideas to Keep the Joy throughout the Entire Easter Season:
- Reserve the bunnies, chicks, and egg décor for Holy Saturday—try not to decorate your home with too many Easter items until the very last moment!
- Make a calendar/countdown until Pentecost and write in activities/events for each weekend (commit! don’t we all have those moments where we plan and dream but nothing comes to fruition?)
- Stay strong with any good habits formed during Lent and ask your loved ones to keep you accountable
- Host or attend a Resurrection party—typically, people will be with their families on Easter Sunday, so have a party with friends on a random weekend during the Easter season (crawfish boil anyone?)
- Dye/decorate Easter eggs
- Shake up the traditional egg hunt—put Scripture verses in the eggs and have children arrange them in order to read the story of the Resurrection or put electric lights in the eggs and hunt in the evening
- Bake Easter bread and Resurrection rolls
- Do religious crafts—there’s so much on the Internet! Personally, I love the empty tomb garden
- Read books and watch movies that focus on the Easter season
- Cure the spring fever and get outside!
- Visit a park or splash pad
- Play with chalk or bubbles
- Go on a picnic (even if it’s just the backyard)
- Give thanks! Praising God and His gifts is a wonderful way to feel that Easter joy, so start a gratitude journal or make gratitude jars for your family members (What I mean by gratitude jars… Use mason jars, one per family member, and decorate them with either the person’s name or a photograph. Display them in your home and invite family members to put treats and compliments inside to show appreciation for that person.)
Happy Easter y’all!
How do you enjoy this experience of new life with your family and/or friends?