When I was a new mom, I didn’t realize that you don’t have to have all the traditions for all your holidays and special occasions all figured out from the moment your firstborn enters the world.
Thanks goodness for that.
But it was hard for me at first. I had all these ideas that the special things I did growing up would be easy to automatically implement with my own children.
That wasn’t quite the case, especially when it came to Easter.
As family in ministry, Easter has always been an extremely full day for us. Most churches, of course, want to plan a service that somehow attempts to adequately celebrate all Christ has done. But also, Easter is a time when many who would not normally darken the doors of a church are willing to come. For many pastoral families, mine included, this means extra services or special events.
It was hard, those first few years, for me to adjust my expectations from how I’d grown up. We would always have an egg hunt in the living room before church, then eat a special breakfast before changing into our fancy new clothes.
But when you’re a pastor’s wife, either your whole family has to be at church very early, or you have to let your husband leave the house while you get the rest of the family ready without him. (We’ve done both at different points).
I could not celebrate Easter in my own home the way I had as a child in my parents’ home.
As I said, at first I was disappointed. When we couldn’t have a special breakfast and scour the house for eggs first thing in the morning, I thought, Well, then, I guess we just can’t do anything special.
I’m so glad I was wrong.
My boys are six and seven now, and we’ve finally found some ways of marking the season that fit us. Like so many of our traditions, the way we celebrate Easter has grown out of our family dynamics, a willingness to work within our schedule, and by learning what resonates with our children’s individual personalities.
I can’t figure out for you what Easter traditions will work in your home.
But if you’re looking for some new ideas of how to make the season special, ideas that respect and reinforce the true meaning of Easter, I’ve put together a list of things you might want to try.
Fast together before Easter
It’s too late to observe Lent if you’re not already doing so, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fast, or give up something as you prepare your heart for Easter.
Our kids, at 6 and 7, are at the age where we are just beginning to explain to them and model for them the concept of fasting and self-denial.
While I believe that biblical term “fasting” really applies only to food (that’s another post for another day), any act of self-denial helps us to identify with Christ, and hopefully to understand that no matter what we do, we can’t really live righteously on our own.
Even if it’s just for a week, you could purpose as a family to go without something –sweets or TV or whatever might be meaningful for you. Whenever it feels inconvenient or uncomfortable, talk to your kids about what Christ gave up for us. Then when Easter comes, celebrate together that Jesus is alive and that he gives us abundant life in Him!
Attend a sunrise service
If you’re a parent to tinies, this one probably isn’t for you, and this isn’t something that makes sense for our family right now. But if you have older kids and are willing to get up a little early, this can be a really meaningful way to connect them with the wonderful news those women heard at dawn when they went to the tomb: “He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).
This is a newer addition to our family’s celebration. We bought a set of Resurrection Eggs a couple years ago for our church at the recommendation of some friends in children’s ministry, and when I found out what they were, I had to get some for our family.
If you’re not familiar with them, Resurrection Eggs are just like regular plastic Easter eggs, but instead of candy, each egg is filled with an object that relates to part of the Easter story.
This is how we use them in our family: starting about two weeks before Easter, we get the eggs out and open one that night. We look at what’s inside, and read a passage of Scripture relating to that part of the story. After that first night, we keep going back to the beginning, having our kids take turns telling the part of the story each object represents before moving on to that night’s egg.
What I love about using these eggs is the way it has helped develop biblical literacy in my sons’ lives. By the time we got to the last egg last year (spoiler: it’s empty!), the details of the Easter story were ingrained in their hearts from several nights of retelling it. And because of the eggs and the little trinkets, they were always so excited to do it. Any time I can make understanding Scripture fun for my kids, I’m all in.
We have this set, which comes with a little guidebook. But if you’re on a tight budget, it’s not too hard to make your own.
There’s nothing quite like special food to set apart a special day. We have all kinds of holiday favorites in our house: birthday cakes and cupcakes, Valentine’s Day cinnamon rolls, and Christmas cookies.
You may already have food traditions for Easter, but if you have room for one or two more, these can be fun because they offer a way to tell the Easter story to your kids.
Resurrection cookies are meringues that sit in the oven overnight, and when you bite into them the next morning, they’re empty inside! There are also several ways to connect the ingredients and process to the Easter story as you make them together. I like the recipe and instructions here.
Hot cross buns have a long-standing history in the church as a traditional Easter food (eaten on Good Friday). Like the resurrection cookies, there are elements of making them that can be connected to the Easter story (the dough is beaten like Jesus was, you add spices like the women used to prepare Jesus’ body), and of course, the cross carved or iced on the top reminds us of Jesus’ death. This is my favorite recipe.
Have a Passover Meal
This is a tradition that we just stumbled into. One Spring, several years ago, we were reading in the Jesus Storybook Bible about how Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples the night before he died. My son was intrigued and asked if we could have our own Passover meal sometime.
I hadn’t planned it out this way at all, but that night was the Wednesday before Easter. So, on a whim, I said we could have Passover the very next night – the night before Good Friday, just like Jesus did.
Now, it’s something my kids really look forward to. While we eat, we talk about the first Passover and how God led his people out of slavery and how death passed over them because of the blood of the lamb. And then we talk about that meal that Jesus had with his disciples, and how he is the Passover Lamb who saves us from death and slavery to sin.
I absolutely love it. You can read more about how we celebrate this special meal, including what I make for us to eat right here
I hope this gives you some ideas of how you could make this Easter even more meaningful for your family. It’s the best news in the world, and it deserves our marking it with a special celebration: He is risen!
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