Monday, March 21, 2016

Making It Less Hard to Celebrate Easter

Out of all the holidays, I consider Easter and Christmas my big two. Because of my religious beliefs, they're simply the most meaningful to me.

But why is it that a Christ-centered Easter seems so much harder to celebrate than a Christ-centered Christmas?

In December there are nativity sets and carols on FM radio that say "Lord" (not in vain, even!), and everywhere you look there are service-oriented volunteer activities that lend themselves quite nicely to a Christian observance of Christmas.

Maybe it's just me, but I have a harder time finding that in the normal trappings of Easter.

In Greece, the traditional Easter greeting to others is "He is risen!" to which the other person responds, "Truly, He is risen." I wish we had something like that here in the U.S.

Making It Less Hard to Celebrate Easter -- Why is it harder to keep Christ at the center of Easter than it is at Christmas? I don't know, but here are some ways my family has successfully done it in the past.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}


I'd like to share a few of the things that my family does to try to refocus ourselves and our kids on the real meaning of Easter. (We don't do them all every year, so don't hyperventilate. We're actually very lazy people, I assure you.)

  • Read the scriptural accounts of Palm Sunday up through the resurrection. Start well in advance of Easter and read a little each day.
  • Check out picture books from the library (or buy them, if you must) that emphasize the meaning of Easter. A good list to start with is this one from A Lively Hope.
  • We usually do our Easter egg hunts and get Easter baskets on Saturday "for fun," and then celebrate Easter Sunday "for real" by going to church and doing more Christ-centered stuff at home.
  • Have a different sort of egg hunt with plastic eggs filled with little stickers or candies  except one. Make a really big deal about finding the empty "Resurrection Egg" and talk about Jesus' empty tomb as you party it up in whatever way will get your kids the most excited.
  • Build up to Easter. One way to do this is by observing Lent. You can also devote the week leading up to Easter to talking about what Jesus did on each day (there are a ton of places on the Internet that tell you what happened on each day.)
  • Watch movies about the real meaning of Easter. A pretty good one is found here, but be careful with little kids or sensitive people because it can be pretty gruesome watching the Savior get beaten and crucified. Obviously.
  • Go through the Easter story with an egg carton and plastic eggs numbered 1-12 (click here for instructions and what to put in each egg.) Our daughter actually just made this at a church activity and was excited to bring it home to show to the family. 
  • Find examples of meaningful Easter decor. Again, I've found this is a lot easier at Christmastime, but it can still be done. My friend Jeanne blew up a huge picture of Jesus' tomb (or at least what the tour guide says is probably like Jesus' tomb) from her college trip to Israel and puts in on her mantel at Easter. I also like this one from Welcoming Walls (which unfortunately is no longer available, but you get the idea:)
image from Welcoming Walls

I'm not sure how it evolved so that the true meaning of Christmas is easier to preserve than Easter, because, in the words of the late president and prophet of my church, "There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter."

But it can be done! Chime in with your best suggestions below, and happy Easter to your family.


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23 comments:

  1. I love this whole list, Jenny! I had already decided not to do an Easter basket for my grand, because I want her to know the real meaning of Easter. So I bought her a Bible. Yes, it's the Berenstain Bears version, but it contains teh important points of the Bible!

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    1. I've never heard of the Berenstain Bears version! They're everywhere.

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  2. As a Humanist I like Easter as a celebration of finally reaching the vernal equinox. I love all the outdoors Easter egg hunts at historic houses and other lovely venues. My son's school will have a church service next Wednesday though with readings from the Easter story. I can see how it is definitely trickier for religious people to focus their kids on that side of it though - a baby being born is a happy tale, a man being betrayed beaten and brutally killed is not so much!

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    1. We try to focus more on the fact that Christ loved us enough to suffer for our sins, and of course that He came back to life again which means we all will, too! But that's probably why Christmas has retained a little more of its spiritual origins - there's none of the tragedy preceding the miracle in that holiday!

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  3. I always loved having conference on Easter and kind of wish it could be on Easter all the time.
    Sometimes the hard part of celebrating for us is getting together with extended family who have completely different views of Easter. My oldest is at the age where she picks others habits or behaviors up and notices when they do things we have asked her not to do. So she notices that her cousins do things a little different. Most of the time we do alright but when she's vocal about it, we risk offending people.

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  4. I agree, Easter is not for eggs or bunnies, but for God and his son Christ :)

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  5. In the US, Catholics refer to themselves as an Easter People, and having reflected, prayed and sacrificed during the 40 days of Lent preceding Easter we are very joyful to celebrate Easter. Catholics will greet each other by saying "He is Risen" with the proper response being "He is Risen, indeed." It would be fun if that was more commonly shared throughout the Easter season like a Happy Holidays in December. I've found certain activities like Stations of the Cross and foot washing on Maundy Thursday really help our kiddos focus on the sacredness of Holy Week and better prepare their hearts for the miracle of Easter Sunday

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    1. In writing this post, I actually ran across a quote from Pope John Paul II: "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song." Beautiful! I love your suggestions, and I had no idea that "He is risen" was a Lenten greeting for Catholics in the US! Thanks for sharing.

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    2. It's specifically the Easter greeting.

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  6. My old Presbyterian church used to do the whole He is Risen, He is Risen indeed! bit. Now I attend a more contemporary church and I don't think we could say that to each other over the rock band. :)

    My church is terrific at helping my kids find the true meaning of Easter. Love it.

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  7. We're not religious, but I know a lot of people are. We're mostly about the bunnies and eggs, but my kids do know about Jesus. My son doesn't really believe, but my daughter does.

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  8. We really like watching The Prince of Egypt during Holy Week (the week before Easter), because the Passover prefigures Jesus's sacrifice. Not a totally accurate depiction of the scriptural account, but really an excellent movie. Also The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is perfect for Easter because of the whole allegorical nature of it!

    On the Saturday before Easter we keep things pretty quiet because that's the day Jesus was in the tomb - we get our food for Easter blessed, spend time together as a family, and pray. Then we technically have 8 days of Easter to celebrate hardcore (Easter egg hunts every day!) and the whole season of Easter is 50 days long! If you save your egg hunts for after Easter Sunday, you can take advantage of sales, too ;)

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    1. Those are all really cool Easter traditions that you have. We love Prince of Egypt (but have had a little family devotional to separate the scriptural account from Disney's artistic license!)

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    2. A good friend of mine is Coptic Orthodox (Christians from Egypt) and the whole "Jews built the pyramids" thing makes her SOOOOO stabby.

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  9. My son't preschool class at church is singing "Jesus Loves Me" for Easter services, and when it gets to the "He who died" part, my 3 year old asks who died, and I try to explain it the best I can. I think you are right. It is harder to explain this than happy Christmas stuff. But it is all necessary, as we can.

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    1. It is pretty mind-boggling, even for adults. So yeah, explaining it to a 3-year-old is hard. It clicked once when I told my Sunday School class of 5- and 6-year-olds that it was like Jesus volunteered to go to time-out for us when we did something wrong, so I think I'll remember that to explain it to my own kids in the future!

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  10. So glad you posted this today. My husband and I were just discussing this this morning. We were asking ourselves when Easter became so commercialized and how we had let it seep into our own lives. I'm a little ashamed that it happened here for us. :(
    We are taking Easter back this year. We did the same this past Christmas.
    We have been kicking around the idea of cancelling Santa and the Easter Bunny all together. We already told the older two and keep asking ourselves why we ate still even doing it.
    I mean. We would still have Christmas and Easter...but we wouldn't be fully committed to the game.

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    1. We still do Santa and the Easter bunny but they're not a focus for us. If they started to take over they would probably get the boot in this house, too, though!

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  11. My Mom has a set of those Easter story eggs and I told the story with my 4 and 5 year olds this week, and then a few days later had them re-tell the story to me with the same props. Of course, I couldn't even get through the egg carton without crying, so that was great. I come from a Methodist background and we also do the "He is Risen!" "He is Risen indeed!" greetings on Easter Sunday. There isn't much about Scriptural Easter which is "cute", and that seems appropriate to me because we're remembering an event that's more awe-inspiring and earth-shaking than 'cute.'

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    1. That's a great idea. Teaching something is the best way to remember it and let it sink in, so it's fantastic to have the kids teach you.

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  12. We just did the plastic eggs with the story of Easter this week! That actually was fun. The littles liked it so much we did it 2 nights in a row. It is always kind of a tricky balancing act making sure our kids really understand the meaning and purpose of this Holiday that seems to be more about bunnies and eggs these days.

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  13. I never thought about Christmas being more centered around Christ than Easter but commercially i supposed you are so right. Food for thought. Thanks for linking up to Share With me #sharewithme

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  14. Perhaps it's 'simply' because Christmas is so commercialised and while Easter is to a degree, not so much. I love the idea of the Different easter egg hunt :) Fascinating post from your point of view, thanks.

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