As we prepare to celebrate the most joyous holiday for believers worldwide - Easter, and the resurrection of Christ - there are many ways that as families, we can honor this celebration with both joy and reverence for what the Lord has done. We asked Veritas families to share some of their most beloved traditions that help point their - and their children's - hearts toward Jesus, his sacrifice, and his triumph.
If you're looking for some inspiration for drawing more meaning out of these holy days - and making important memories - as a family, here are some ideas from Veritas parents based on what they have done over the years:
A Good Friday evening Tenebrae service
Jared and Anna Martin's family does a Tenebrae (Latin for "shadows) service that coincides with the 14 stations of the cross. Anna explains, "we light 14 candles on the coffee table in a dark room and read the scriptures leading up to the death of Jesus. As each one is read, we blow a candle out. In the end, the room is dark, my husband prays and we walk the children quietly up to bed."
Click here for a document listing each of the scriptures and suggested responses for the stations of the cross. While this service is typically considered a Catholic tradition, there is muchthat all believers can glean from meditating on the way of suffering that Jesus walked for us.
Anna adds that their family's reading includes these instructions to help prepare for the service:
At the beginning of the devotion, with the room in darkness and everyone standing, light all the candles. After each of the prayers for each Station is said, a child puts out one candle, alternating left and right ends of the candelabrum. When the last Station is prayed, the candle in the center - the Light of Christ candle - is extinguished and the room is in darkness. Explain the darkness to the children by saying "Christ was the Light of the World, and when He dies, the Light was gone from the world." Then, relight only this candle.
After announcing each station, genuflect and say:
V: We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless thee
R: Because by Thy holy cross, Thou has redeemed the world
Or, in Latin:
V: Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R: Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
Many of our families enjoy using Resurrection eggs in the 12 days leading up to Easter, something that Veritas kindergartners do in their classroom as well! This take on the typical colorful Easter egg surprise includes 12 plastic eggs, each containing an object that coincides with Christ's minstry, death, and resurrection, along with scriptures and descriptions to read with your children as they open each egg.
Several families told us they like to make "Resurrection Rolls" with their kids! It's a simple and fun recipe to make (using crescent rolls, marshmallows, butter, cinnamon, and sugar) that serves as a visual representation of the empty tomb! Plus, they are a tasty treat for everyone. Find the recipe, as well as a printable with verses and instructions here.
Book (instead of egg) Hunt
The Weist family would do a book hunt for their young children, always including several titles that would further their spiritual growth, such as devotions or Bible stories.
The Bustard family developed a creative tradition to make the story of Jesus come alive for their children, which came to be known as "Playombil Easter." Leslie Bustard recalls: "When the girls were younger, each day of Holy Week we would read a story about something Jesus did that week, leading up to his crucifixion. On Good Friday, in the morning, we would read about Jesus' death in the Bible. Than we would wrap up a Playmobile man (we had enough that looked like they were from Biblical time period) in tissue paper and set him in a 'tomb' out in our garden. I would have set up a tomb with Roman soldiers and people by pulling together various Playmobile pieces. Than on Sunday, Jesus would not be in a tomb and an angel would be there"
Of course, even if you don't have a plethora of Playmobil people, your family can do this with any other figurines, from legos to dolls, or even using paper print outs.
Take part in your Church's activities together
If your Church has special Easter services and traditions, get involved in them as a family. Whether it's singing in the Easter choir, going to Holy Week services, or taking part in community meals, show your children the importance of bonding with the body of Christ through your heartfelt participation.
Several parents lead their families in a Seder (or Messianic Passover) meal, sometimes with other families and friends. As Angela Weist put it, "I think this was my favorite way to commemorate Easter, as it is very symbolic and meaningful and a tradition ordained by God himself."
The Weaver family takes the Seder meal a bit further by including foot washing. "We began this tradition when our teens were young after our church stopped hosting it," Amy Weaver explains. "It has been a joy to watch each additional child (the youngest now 1) even excited to participate in washing his big sister's feet and have his own washed. As we wash another's feet we share what we appreciate about the other family member and close with an embrace."
Each of these traditions may sound idyllic, but we all know that life with kids (especially young ones) can be full of twists, interruptions, and noisy surprises. After all, as Anna Martin notes after describing their Tenebrae service (which, as you'll recall, included a reverent candle ceremony ending with a dark room, quiet prayer, and peaceful bedtime): "This is, of course, the most idealistic version. Other versions have included a child vomiting, children passing gas, confusion about who's turn it is to read what verse, arguments about whose turn it is to blow out particular candle, etc. Overall, it is quite meaningful, though!"
Just remember to allow yourself (and your children) plenty of grace. After all, isn't that what Jesus died - and lives - to offer us all?
May you and your family enjoy a blessed celebration of our Lord's ultimate sacrifice and victory. He is risen indeed!