Saturday, April 26, 2014

How We...Prepare for Easter

In the comments to this post, I promised I would share a few of our family’s traditions for the seasons of Lent and Easter.  I realize that it’s a bit too late for this year, but hey, it gives you plenty of time to think and consider how you may want to approach this in your home for next year. J
A couple of caveats: Our goal during Lent is mostly to help our children (and ourselves) understand that this is a special season set aside to reflect on Christ’s coming and work on the cross on our behalf – something that is as significant and important in our family life as our observance of Christmas.  So what I share here are some of the traditions we have adopted as we have endeavored to do that, and therefore don’t necessarily include all of the practices observed in more liturgical churches during the season of Lent.   You will also see that we like to keep things fairly simple.  You aren’t going to see lots of cute crafts or events that are heavy on preparation.   I’m not a crafty-mama in the first place.   We’ve moved a lot in the second place (this year is the first time since 2009 that we have spent two consecutive Easters on the same continent!).  And in our missionary community, March/April tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for community events of all sorts – unfortunate but true.  So our traditions reflect that – simple things that I can still pull off without adding extra stress during a move or an otherwise busy season.   Just so you know where I’m coming from.
The mantle on Good Friday

On each Sunday of Lent, we use John Piper’s Lenten Lights devotional.  I like that this is designed sort of as the ‘reverse’ of an advent wreath – rather than lighting a new candle for each Sunday, one is extinguished.  The last candle is extinguished on Good Friday, and then one awakes to all of the candles re-lit to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday.  To go along with each reading of the devotional, I searched for a painting that would illustrate the story.  (I wish I had a nice printable to share with you, but alas I don’t.  This is a useful site for searching for artwork with Biblical themes, however, if you wanted to put together something similar for your family.) 
During Holy Week, we use a set of plastic Easter eggs to retell the story of Passion Week.  Each egg is filled with a symbol that represents a part of the story.   You can buy sets of these commercially, but I made ours myself.  Currently, I have each day/symbol keyed to a reading from Catherine Vos’ The Child’s Story Bible, but am thinking that for next year I will key them to the actual Scripture passages.
Here is my list of symbols and readings from The Child’s Story Bible:
Palm Sunday
Egg #1: Palm Branch (in our case, it’s a foam palm tree sticker)
Reading: Ch. 41 “The King Comes” p.311
Egg #2: Cracker
Reading: Ch. 44 “In the Upper Room” p.314
Egg #3: Silver Coins (mine has 3 dimes in it)
Reading: Ch. 46 “The Kiss of Judas” p.317 (In this story Bible, it doesn’t actually mention the 30 pieces of silver that Judas was paid to betray Jesus, so I just add this in at an appropriate part in the story.)
Egg #4: Feathers
Reading: Ch. 47 “Why Peter Wept” p.318
Maundy Thursday
Egg #5: Whip (mine is made of some strings tied to a toothpick)
Egg #6: Purple Robe
Egg #7: Thorns
Reading: Ch. 50 “Carrying the Cross” p.322
Good Friday
Egg #8: Cross and Nails (my cross is made of twigs lashed together)
Egg #9: Vinegar and Sponge (I actually have a cotton ball in ours that I soak in a bit of vinegar so they can smell it)
Reading: Ch. 51 “The Sun Becomes Dark” p. 323
Egg #10: Burial Cloth and Spices (a scrap of white fabric and some cloves)
Egg #11: Rock
Reading: Ch. 52 “The Stone is Rolled Away” p.325
Easter Sunday
Egg #12: Empty!
Reading: Ch.53 “Visitors to the Tomb” p. 326
On Easter Saturday, we usually dye Easter eggs.  We usually talk about how they can be a symbol of new life.   My 4-year-old asked me as I was preparing the dye this year: "So, first we dye the eggs, and then they come alive again?"  Well, not quite sweetheart....  At least something about the significance of this season is getting into her head, though. :)
Brown eggs come out really pretty when you dye them, don't they?  I love how they look.

This post is getting kind of long, so I’ll share our traditions that carry us into Easter Sunday and beyond next time.


  1. Thanks for remembering to post this, Jen. I enjoyed it very much. Due to forgetting about Lenten Lights early enough to use it weekly we used it for every day during Holy Week, along with our resurrection eggs, and it was a great success. And YES - the brown eggs do look lovely when you dye them! I never thought to use brown but will give it a go next year.

    1. Thanks Dawn - Part 2 coming up later today. :) Glad that you enjoyed Lenten Lights with your resurrection eggs this year. I kind of stumbled onto dying brown eggs one year when we lived in PNG and couldn't get white eggs anywhere and was so pleased with the result that we've used brown eggs ever since, even when we had a choice (like in the States - all the eggs here are brown).

  2. What lovely ideas. I have often felt sorry that we don't observe Holy Week with as much effort as we do Christmas, since to me it is the most significant Christian holy day of all (and, incidentally, the one that Jesus actually told us to remember!). I think I will think about this more through the year and come up with a plan for next year.

    1. Thanks Nelleke. That has been our journey too over the past several years - realizing how much we overplayed Christmas and downplayed Easter. We've been slowly trying over the past several years to scale back some of the extremes of the Christmas celebration and ramp up our Easter a bit more so our children get a sense of the importance of both.