Easter Sunday, April 20 this year, is just one month away.

I should say at the outset that, though Easter is an incredibly important holiday for us Christians, I am not a raving fan of typical Easter colors, Easter decòr, or many Easter traditions. Bunnies, baby chicks, and pastel shades of yellow and purple leave me cold. I dislike jelly beans, malted milk balls, marshmallow peeps, and all hollow chocolate shapes except peanut butter eggs. Even lilies, I confess, are my unfavorite flower. I do like to dye eggs and look forward to being able to achieve bright colors again, as all eggs in England are brown. We have even hosted an egg hunt before, when Norah was three. But these activities seem to me to be more of the Just-For-Fun variety than actually having a meaningful connection with the death and resurrection of the Son of God.

Our Easter traditions have been somewhat in flux, as Mommy tries to find meaningful things that can last as we move from place to place. I’ve tried different things so far with mixed results. When I was a child my parents always gave us new dresses (and sometimes hats!) to wear on Easter Sunday. I loved this when I was little, so I gave the girls new dresses for a few early years. However, often they had enough dresses that had been gifted or handed on, and buying new clothes we don’t really need hasn’t always fit the budget. This might remain a when-we-can type of tradition.

What have we done that we’ll keep? We love to go to church on Good Friday. If there’s no service at our church I’ll find one to attend. We like the English tradition of hot cross buns on Good Friday. The best tradition of all we just began last year, that of crafting an Easter Garden together. We love the beauty and the meaning of this activity. During family Bible time leading up to and throughout Easter week we have a special focus on Christ’s death and resurrection, and the song “Up From The Grave He Arose” is a family favorite at this time of year. Similar to the Advent Readings For the Very Young that Alex and I wrote, a few years ago I wrote a ten-day series of Easter Readings For the Very Young based on the Gospel of John that we will use once more this year. The readings and activities can be found on this blog if it would serve anyone who wants to join us. (I have also been working on a series for the very young that is based on the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount. I intended it to be ready to use with the children before Lent (!), but have had to revise my plan and we’ll be doing it after Easter this year. Stay tuned if you’re interested.)

Any of my fellow mommies out there with good ideas for helping our families and little ones focus on Jesus this season? Don’t be selfish. Comment, I beg you!

Addendum: A lovely commenter has just reminded me of Resurrection Rolls, which we made last year and really enjoyed. We’ll probably do this again sometime Easter week.

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7 Responses to Eastertide

  1. Kate says:

    We are doing a Jesus tree from this blog: http://showerofroses.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/jesus-tree-daily-readings-and-coloring.html. There are lots of great ideas for Lent with little ones on that page. Ours isn’t fabric and felt (just paper and marker:) but I hope to make a lasting one in the future. My two small boys have loved it and it’s been a great way to focus on the life of Jesus during this season.

  2. Katy Jack says:

    Hi Betsy. Here are a few Jack family ideas that we have used over the years… we always make the Noel Piper dough mountain/garden tomb (Treasuring God in our Traditions). Last year we made three (one each) and the boys all painted them. We then worked through the events of Easter using pipe cleaner figures, each day – Jesus praying, Jesus on the cross (made out of bound together twigs), Jesus placed in the tomb with a big stone across the entrance. And then – hooray! – Easter Sunday – Jesus alive and the stone rolled away. Phil and I actually got quite carried away one year and got the Christmas fairy lights down and lit up the tombs so that when the children came downstairs that morning they were so excited!
    We also have kept a jar of little pieces of paper with notes of things we have all done in the preceding few weeks – unkind words, unkind hands, sinful attitudes – we have shared these as a family and put them folded in the jar. Then on Good Friday – to show how wonderful it is that Jesus has paid the penalty for all our sins – we re-read them and realised together that we were sinners who needed a saviour – and then had a wee bonfire – burnt up and gone, very visual way for the children to grasp, Jesus has washed away our sins.
    One year, we painted the soles of each other’s feet and made a family footprint painting and then carefully washed each others feet whilst reading the account of Jesus washing his disciples feet . The painting is still up in our house and is a lovely reminder of that special time.
    We always make an Easter cake – which is basically the garden tomb, lots of green icing and flaked chocolate and a digestive biscuit as the tomb stone! It;s great to to have as many visual and tangible reminders of the truths we are teaching them.
    I should be working so must stop! Hope some of these ideas are a little bot helpful!
    Love to all the dear *********s. xx

    • betsy says:

      Dear Katy, so grateful to you for taking time to give us this list!! We do a foot-washing activity as part of the Easter readings, but I never heard the paint idea. I also love the idea of thinking about our sins and how Jesus paid the price. Thank you!!

  3. Jenn says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. I’m in a bit of a newborn baby-induced fog these days and this reminded me of how exciting it is to prepare my heart and bring my children (ages 5, 3, 2, and 4 weeks!… fun around here!) along in the depth, wonder, and excitement of Easter! We planted our Easter Garden the other week and that is hands-down everyone’s favorite. We love making the most of Easter and I am always looking for great ideas, too. Here are a few we’ve been thankful for (in a hodge-podge, unformatted, brain fog list):
    Resurrection Eggs (easy to make your own) (http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Eggs/dp/1602003920/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395233946&sr=8-1&keywords=resurrection+eggs), reading along in Scripture during Holy Week and washing one another’s feet (my 5 year old loved this), soft pretzels are an old Lenten tradition we’ve taken up,
    a Live Butterfly Garden (requires some forethought: http://www.amazon.com/Insect-Lore-Live-Butterfly-Garden/dp/B00000ISC5), making an Easter “countdown chain” builds up the excitement around here, keeping the lights off all of Good Friday to remind us of the darkness and the crucifixion, and then celebrating Easter Sunday in the biggest way we can with lots of light, candles, beautiful flowers, delicious food, fine china, Handel’s Messiah or other Easter music, an egg hunt, small gift baskets (nothing symbolic here, it just makes the kids happy!), games (a picture that I cut into a puzzle then taped together on Easter morning, and a Scripture verse divided up and scattered about to find and put together), and Resurrection Rolls (http://www.dltk-kids.com/recipes/resurrection_rolls.htm) (also a hit with little ones).
    We always greet one another (phone calls, and texts to family included!) first thing on Easter morn with the old words, “He is risen, He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!”.
    We have also used your Easter Readings (which is how I began reading here):-) Thanks so much for those – I’m looking forward to any other series the Lord gives you the heart and time to do. They are a blessing to us!

    • betsy says:

      Hi Jenn! I am so delighted with so many new and meaningful ideas to consider!! The children love the “He is risen, he is risen indeed” greeting on Easter–I love the addition of calling family and friends with it, what a great idea! There is so much here for us to explore, thank you, thank you. Also, I’m glad to hear that the Easter Readings have been a help, I’m encouraged by that! And I’ll publish the Sermon on the Mount series when it’s done–even if it’s just for you. Blessings!

  4. heatherjaner@gmail.com says:

    Thanks for the great ideas! We really enjoy reading a chapter a day of “Journey to the Cross: The Complete Easter Story for Young Readers” by Helen Haidle. It’s a wonderful resource for my 6 and 8 year old. We also have a set of homemade resurrection eggs and my girls love opening a new one every day and reading the accompanying Scripture. We enjoy making resurrection rolls and dying Easter eggs on Sunday after church. I also make a coconut cream pie on Easter and that is a tradition my family won’t ever let me give up!

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