I know everyone’s favorite holiday is probably Christmas, because of the month-long hoopla and presents. Plus, it does boast the best soundtrack of any holiday.* Thanksgiving is quite the to-do as well, because families come from far and wide and gorge themselves on food until they fall into a tryptophan induced food coma.
But, Easter. Easter is so close to my heart. It falls at a time in the year when I need it most. Its hopefulness. Its triumphant overtones and peaceful undertones. It’s grace and mercy after a long Lent. Like the promise of Spring after a long Winter. The stark contrast of Sunday morning, compared to the hopelessness of Friday night, is the Gospel in all its glory.
Can I take a rabbit trail, real quick? Then we’ll get back to the lovelies? It breaks my heart when Christians say they don’t celebrate Easter because it’s not a “biblical” holiday and that it has pagan roots. The internet meme of misinformation resurfaces this time every year that “Easter is really to celebrate Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and sex.” I won’t explain it all here, but will just say that most languages in the world do not use the word “Easter” to refer to this feast. The English language is not the mother-tongue of the whole earth, contrary to what many might think. Most languages use some derivative of Paschal as the word for this holiday. Paschal, coming from the the Passover. Jesus is our Paschal Lamb. So, set aside all the bad theology based on bad etymology and enjoy the fact that Jesus is Risen. He is risen indeed! And celebrating that is a beautiful, lovely, incredible, hopeful, grace-filled, life-changing thing!**
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” St. John Paul II
Onto the Lovelies (beyond bunnies and eggs)
On Holy Thursday, we will do our best to make homemade matzoh. We will eat it together and read about the Last Supper when Jesus gave us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist. We will wash each other’s feet.
On Good Friday I go around the house and cover the crosses, crucifixes or pictures of Jesus with a dark cloth (black or purple). I encourage the kids to all dress in black as well. We will have special times of prayer and Bible reading. And fasting. Don’t forget the fasting. (Pregnant and nursing moms are exempted from fasting.) It may not be all food, because there are a lot of little people around here. But we will abstain from meat, sugar, wine, and basically anything too delicious. Our food will be simple. Bread, vegetables, simple tea. It will be a long day. Always is.
On Holy Saturday we will put together our Easter Basket. We will include particular things to remind us of the significance of the day. We will take the basket with us to Easter Vigil and have it blessed. It will be our abundance on Easter morning! (Read more about this practice here: About That Easter Basket)
On Easter Sunday morning the black cloths on the crosses and images will be replaced with white! Fresh flowers will be on the table. And breakfast. An amazing breakfast of cherry coffee cake, eggs, sausage, fruit, champagne. I will wake up my kids by saying CHRIST IS RISEN! And even in their groggy, half-asleep stupor they will reply HE IS RISEN INDEED!
We like to each wear something new to church on Easter. Depending on the year, new clothes are not always in the budget. That’s OK. In the picture above you may notice a pair of socks on each plate. And the corresponding Scripture on the table: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God Reigns.'” Isaiah 52:7
In tight years it might be new hair ribbons for the girls, ties for the boys. Or new handkerchiefs embroidered with each child’s initials. There are many possibilities that communicate the newness of the day without breaking the bank with complete outfits for each person. Sometimes you gotta think outside the Easter Dress.
Kristina and I are both blessed with daughters who make delicious things. So, dessert has become their domain. We love to see what they come up with for every holiday!
We will have a nice Easter Dinner, which is usually lamb, but sometimes a roast. It’s fancy food–compared to the simple food we eat during Lent–but the atmosphere is low-key. It’s about rejoicing and resting.
We do let the kids decorate eggs, which we hide in the backyard (or indoors if the weather is not cooperative). We do not, however, stress about making an elaborate Easter basket for each child. 1) There are just too many of them and too small a purse 2) A family basket is more fun. We like to include treats everyone can enjoy together, while we relax throughout the day. We can can relax because Jesus conquered death by death. Because sin is defeated and Jesus is victorious and we are victorious in Him.
“The Cross had asked the questions; the Resurrection had answered them…The Cross had asked: “Why does God permit evil and sin to nail Justice to a tree?” The Resurrection answered: “That sin, having done its worst, might exhaust itself and this be overcome by Love that is stronger than either sin or death.” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
SOME EXTRA HELPFUL LOVELINESS
Stations of The Cross For Children (my daughter’s interactive plan)
Pinterest Boards with tons of inspiration from Christian mommas!
*Little known fact, Handel’s Messiah–the best Christmas track of all time–was actually written for Easter! Since Christmas has so much good music, I think Christmas should give Easter its tunes back. Who’s with me?
**For more background on the real origins of Easter and to dispel the misinformation of holiday-haters, read this.