There are so many fun, simple, beautiful things we can do with our families to celebrate the real meaning of Easter.
To help you develop your own Christ-centered Easter traditions, here are some details on what works for my family (including links to videos and easy ideas for day-by-day Easter Week activities):
I came to love the idea of Lent when I was in college and my Catholic friends introduced me to the idea. Lent has now become a tradition in our family. A few weeks in advance of Easter (Lent is officially about 6 weeks long, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve, but we’re not that precise), we each decide on something that we’ll give up for Lent. The kids usually pick something pretty simple (like a specific favorite candy). I’ve given up sugar for several years but this year I gave up eating after 8pm (makes me feel so much better!). We talk about how giving something up is a great way to work on will-power and be more healthy but that most importantly, when we give up something for Lent, every time we’re tempted to do whatever we gave up for Lent, we have a chance to think about Christ’s sacrifice for us as we make our own little sacrifice. I like that.
A couple weeks before Easter, I set out some fresh spring flowers, pull out a pretty table cloth, set out a bowl of pretty dyed eggs and voila – the house is all decorated for Easter. I love how eggs and flowers remind us of new life – what Easter is all about.
Here are a couple super-simple ideas I found on Pinterest that I think I’ll try this year:
The kids and I are always collecting “signs of spring” – the first sprigs of green we find. This would be a lovely way to showcase what we find as we celebrate new life at Easter:
And I think I’ll print this out and put it in a frame in my front entryway this Easter (several combinations of colors available – just click on the image below.)
EASTER WEEK DAILY TRADITIONS:
We have special (but very simple) activities we do each day of the week leading up to Easter. Thanks to great ideas from books and friends and some trial and error, our Easter Week has evolved over the years into what I’ve laid out below.
Most of the ideas below take 5-10 minutes and require little or no supplies.
On Palm Sunday, we read Matthew 21: 1-11 together and look at this picture:
Then we we act it out (using weeds for palms and dad for a donkey…). The kids yell “Hosana!” and we talk about how wonderful it must have been for Jesus to see so many people embracing his message of love.
On Monday we read from the scriptures about Jesus cleansing the temple (Matthew 21:12-13). Sometimes we re-enact Jesus cleansing the temple (with a focus on how we can stand up for what is right and be firm and stern without being mean). Some years we’ve gone to visit a holy place like a temple or cathedral to feel the peace there and imagine how it must have felt to Jesus to see people showing so little reverence for the temple. We talk about how important it is to keep sacred things sacred and talk about what the word “sacred” means.
On Monday we’ve also talked about Jesus’s cursing of the unfruitful fig tree (Matthew 21:19-22) and how important it is that we use what we’ve been given to bless the lives of others while also talking about the importance of faith and how faith can bring miracles to pass.
On Tuesday we dye eggs (we always do the first one red by leaving it in the pink then the orange dye for a long time – I lived in Bulgaria for a while and that was the tradition there – the red represents death and the egg represents new life – great symbol of death and life coming together). We talk about how eggs represent new life and read about the new life Christ offered in the scriptures. Here are a couple favorite scriptures to read (and memorize together if you like) as a lead-up to the egg-dying:
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
John 10:10 – “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
We all have fun coming up with creative new ideas for decorating eggs. We’ve tried using Sharpie pens to make beautiful patterns. We’ve tried “tie-dying” eggs by wrapping them in tissue dipped in different colored dye. And when we’re done creating beautiful eggs, we shine them up by rubbing them with a little olive oil and put them in a nice bowl as a decoration.
When the kids were little, it used to be a crazy ordeal trying to dye eggs without any big fat permanent messes but it’s actually been very enjoyable the past few years!
There are so many fun ideas for dying eggs. Here are a few we might try and you can click on each for instructions (but super-simple works fine!)
Cool Nature-Print Eggs:
Natural Dyed Eggs:
On Wednesday we talk about Christ’s parables and miracles (many in Matthew 25 – the parables of the 10 Virgins, the talents, and the sheep and the goats). We have some good kids’ books about the parables and we also like to watch the video “Finding Faith in Christ” (beautifully depicts several of Christ’s miracles – click HERE to watch it – it’s about 10 minutes long).
We also watch several of these video clips showing scripture-based depictions of Christ’s miracles, sermons, parables, etc. Click on the image or the link below to see all available clips.
On Thursday we do a simple Passover-style supper with lentil stew and pita bread (you could get into a real Passover dinner – tons of great ideas on Pinterest – or keep it super simple with cheese and pita bread…) and talk about the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane as we read about these events in the scriptures:
Last Supper – Matthew 26:17-35
Gethsemane – Matthew 26:36-46
Arrest and Trial – Matthew 26: 47-68
We also talk about how Christ suffered as he took the sins of the world upon him in the Garden of Gethsemane and discuss the Atonement a bit. The short film, “The Lamb of God” offers my favorite depiction of what happened after the Last Supper. Click HERE to watch.
On Friday we talk about Christ’s death, sometimes read parts of Matthew 27, and look at this picture:
We’ve also found some videos that really help. Here are a couple that work well:
This 14-minute film called “He is Risen” shows the last few days of Christ’s life from the perspective of John, one of Christ’s apostles and offers a powerful but tasteful account of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. While it shows quite a bit of blood and agony, I thought it worked very well for my children. (Click the image below to watch.)
We talk about why people call this day “Good Friday” – what Jesus did for us was so very very good although it was so very very sad.
These topics can be tricky with younger children – this is hard, heavy stuff. But I’ve found that my young kids (starting maybe around 4 years old) have been able to understand things and feel empathy and love way beyond their years as we’ve watched videos, read scriptures and talked about things.
Saturday (the day Jesus was resting in Heaven) is for the Easter Bunny and egg hunts and all that fun stuff. We usually have a neighborhood egg hunt on Saturday morning.
The kids and I make simple fliers and take them around to all the neighbors plus send out some emails and/or create a Facebook event. We ask that every child bring 10 plastic eggs filled with candy or stickers or other prizes. Usually someone does a few “money” eggs with quarters and one time even a dollar (that was a big hit!).
When everyone arrives for the hunt, some of the other parents and I keep the kids engaged in some games inside (“duck, duck, goose” becomes “egg, egg, chick”) whilesome parents and teenagers hide the eggs in a clearly defined area (usually 3-4 front yards in a row). Then we send out the little kids first for eggs followed by the medium kids then the big kids.
At the end, we give a prize to the child who found the most eggs then we usually divide up all the eggs somewhat evenly and hang out with the neighbors eating candy for a while. We make deviled eggs for lunch and eat more candy. It’s a fun day.
On Easter morning, as soon as we wake up (while we’re still in our pj’s), we watch some video clips about the resurrection.
I really like THIS VIDEO that puts together everything we’ve been talking about all week. It starts with Palm Sunday and goes through the Resurrection – all in about 8 minutes.
I also LOVE this 3-minute clip called “Because of Him” that works extra well for older children and adults. It can spark some great discussions about the various roles Jesus played and plays and what gifts He has given us.
Then the kids head into the living room where they find some new Easter clothes (just spring church clothes they need anyway – often just a new shirt or tie for the boys and Eliza usually gets a new dress) and their Easter Baskets waiting for them (see photo below for details – the baskets contain very simple gifts – a few candies, often a book and some other stuff they can use to keep themselves happily and meaningfully occupied at church on Sundays when what the speakers are saying is going over their heads).
I like doing new clothes for Easter because it helps make church extra special on Easter, symbolizes a new beginning, and hey, it’s fun to celebrate spring by dressing my kids up in cute coordinated outfits (and luckily, I always seem to find great sales).
After Easter baskets, we eat a special breakfast (Eggs Benedict is our tradition) and get ready for church (or if we have early church, we just have some cereal and come home after church for a special Easter brunch).
After church, we do a special Easter Egg hunt for plastic eggs filled with symbols of Christ’s last week on earth (a piece of bread for the Last Supper, a rock for the tomb, a little cross made of sticks, some olive leaves for the Garden of Gethsemane, some nails, some thorns…). Now that our kids are a bit older, it’s been great to have them read scriptures on a little slip of paper inside each egg. Click on the photo below for full instructions and printables from “The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.”
Our traditions are still evolving – and probably always will be. I’m always adding in new ideas people share with me and I’ve taken out a lot of ideas that proved to be more trouble than they’re worth.
The main thing is that our children are really starting to understanding the real meaning of Easter. I’m so grateful for the chance I have, through simple activities like those outlined above, to bear my testimony of Jesus daily to my children during Easter Week.
I hope my kids will always think of Easter as a magical and meaningful holiday – a great combination of fun and thought and treats and tokens of the first Easter.
QUESTION: What are your favorite Easter traditions?
CHALLENGE: Add a new and meaningful Easter traditions this year. It can take about 5 minutes!
Alaine Kowalski says
I really love these Ideas and while I’m a bit late to do some of them (I’m putting in my calendar now for next year, I’m going to try some to share more meaning with the kids about Easter. Thank you 🙂
Anna Jenkins says
Saren, I love your Easter Week activities! Easter has always been a holiday that I have not been quite comfortable with, as far as the secular part of it so these ideas really bring home the reason for the celebration. I love simple things and I really like how you described the simple, more natural decorations. Not a fan of pastels, either.
Lori P says
Perhaps you could use some of the many naturally colored eggs that also happen to come in lots of different sizes. For example, quail eggs are often tan or pale rose colored with lots of speckles and spots. Robin eggs are that beautiful turquoise blue, other game birds have a variety of colored eggs. Araucana or Americana domesticated chickens also lay colored eggs naturally, ranging from rosy pink to light blue to blue-green.
My kids always tell their friends, “Our Easter Bunny comes on Saturday.” This was a compromise. My husbands family didn’t have an easter bunny at all. My easter bunny resembled Santa Claus in generosity. Now we have a spiritual Easter, but I still get to give some new outdoor toys and jelly beans.
I never thought of spending a whole week on Easter. That is certainly a way to make Easter special. I will have to consider this.
Fabulous ideas, Saren! I’m using a lot of them this year, and planning on doing more things next year.
Thank you for sharing. Have you looked on Pinterest? Lots of other people liked this particular post too!
Does anyone have suggestions for the southern hemisphere? It is really the time of year for us to have a harvest festival, not a fertility one, and many of the eggs and new life traditions are clearly borrowed from other traditions. We did our egg dying in our spring time, and I don’t really want to ‘decorate’ for Easter with harvest-y things! Yet I love the notion of spending a week building up to Easter Sunday… lots to ponder! Sometimes it is tricksy living upside down 🙂
Saren Eyre Loosli says
I never thought of Easter being during autumn! But luckily, other than a decorating idea or two, the Easter week ideas in this article work great no matter whether it’s spring or fall.
Lori P says
Perhaps you could tie it into the theme of death and rebirth, using the example of the plants and leaves dying, but coming back again in the spring, and how that can paint a picture to help us remember that the Savior died but came back. I have also heard of people using the seeds that are harvested to illustrate that the seed “dies” when the pod shatters and it is broadcast out, landing in the nasty, cold, wet ground. But when God’s love comes, in the form of spring warmth and sunshine, that which was buried responds and comes to new life. Hope this helps.
Cristina Del Lago says
Thank you so much Saren, I loved all the ideas and I am so excited to start. Happy Easter 🙂
Thanks for your ideas! I love the signs of Spring decor and the egg dyeing tips.
Like Emily, my husband and I compromised. His family didn’t have an Easter Bunny and mine did. So, instead of Easter Baskets, we send the kids on a treasure hunt on Easter where they gather a small treat at each new clue location. The hints all have something to do with the Savior and His Atonement (i.e., “Jesus shed great drops of blood when he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. What do you do when you’re bleeding?” – the next clue would be by the bandaids, etc.) The last clue usually leads to an empty egg to represent the empty tomb. I also try to include a wrapped gift for the family – a new movie or something like that. They usually end up with the things that would have been in an Easter basket without the Easter Bunny.
There is also a recipe for Easter Story Cookies (http://www.food.com/recipe/easter-story-cookies-99055) that I plan to use this year. You make them Saturday night and the recipe talks you through from the cross to the tomb. You put the cookies in the preheated oven then turn it off and go to bed. In the morning, you find the cookies are hollow like the empty tomb.
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Great ideas! And great point about compromising.
We did those Easter Story Cookies a few years back but I think my kids were too little to really get it. Thanks for the reminder of this idea. We’ll have to try it again now that the kids are older.
We have done something similar. One egg stuffer idea we have used is using honeycomb cereal and fish crackers or goldfish gummies to symbolize the food that Christ ate to prove he had a resurrected body. (Luke 24:40-43)
Saren Eyre Loosli says
What a great idea! Simple, fun and perfect for the little ones.
Leslie Nall says
The book, “My First Book of the First Easter” by Deana Draper Buck is part of our Easter tradition. We have three kids ages 7, 4, and 1 and it tells the Easter story on their level. We read it every night of Easter week along with the scriptures you mentioned. I also love all the video clips you mentioned.
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Thanks so much for the book recommendation – looks perfect for young kids.
Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to get busy making a wonderful Eater for my family!
In Australia we have chocolate eggs & bunnies. When our son bites into a hollow chocolate egg we tell him the egg represents the tomb & when he bites it is the stone being rolled away & Jesus is Resurrected. He knows now and talks about it even when it’s not Easter.
Thanks for all these great ideas to make Easter so much more meaningful than just welcoming the Easter Bunny! What a great way to celebrate the greatest sacrifice of all time!
Emily @ ReMarkable Home says
Thanks for sharing all these great ideas. I am always looking for ways to keep the focus on Christ on Easter. I did a round up of Christ Centered Easter Ideas on my blog last week if anyone would like some additional ideas. You can find it here: http://www.remarkablehome.net/2013/03/pinteresting-tuesdays-christ-centered.html
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Thanks for sharing this great round-up of ideas. I love learning from others!
FANTASTIC!! Just great- thank you so much for sharing. Inspirational, fun and meaningful. God bless you and your family this Easter!
Here I am again referring to this fantastic post as I gear up for Holy Week. Thanks again! This soooo good.
I am using all of your ideas staring today for our week of Easter! We started doing the spiritual Easter Egg hunt on Sunday a few years ago and I love having that focus on Easter Sunday.
Thank you for sharing your traditions. I’ve been really against the idea of the Easter Bunny because I feel like it just confuses my kids. Yes we do Santa, but at least at Christmas there is plenty of chances to focus on the real meaning of the holiday with songs and such, even within the community. But at Easter its all about the bunny and Easter egg hunts. I’ve been looking for a way of making it more meaningful, this is just what I was hoping for.
Wow! so many great ideas! I love them! If you’re interested, you can check out the dinner I do for my family on Easter Sunday where all the foods symbolize Christ and the Easter story: http://fhelessons.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/passover-inspired-easter-dinner/
or the Christ-centered Easter baskets I designed for my kids this year. I included some free printables:http://fhelessons.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/christ-centered-easter-baskets/
Hope you like them!
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Laura – Thanks so much for the links to your excellent ideas – we’ll be integrating some of your stuff this year for sure.
Thank you so much! You have inspired me to make Easter more than just a day of new clothes and church. Thanks again!
Mother Truele says
Dear Saren, Your sharing was just magnificent. I shared it with my grand daughter who wrote back that she loved it also and would use many ideas with her two little ones. It was after I read her response that I realized who you were. My grand daughter’s mother had organized a JOY school for her and her two older brothers with another sister in our Ward and we all loved your parents and their mission to help us be better parents. I remember that you were all here in Hawaii for some event and I remember you gave a CD to one of my daughters. Then in the night I awoke with the prompting to create a blog and share some of the things I have done with my family to help nurture them to be Christ centered children and adults. I just started my sharing blog tonight, so you can be the first to view it : )
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Great connection! And thanks so much for sharing your blog – excellent material and thoughts there.
I love your ideas! Another thing we’ve done several years with our young childrend is go to a local cemetery. We bring our scriptures and pictures of Christ as well as pictures of loved ones who have died. There is such a special feeling at the cemetery and as long as we keep it simple and short, our kids have been very attentive. I love talking about the hope of the resurrection in that setting. It replaces the fear of death with the joy of reunion.
Saren Eyre Loosli says
Love this idea, Christine! We’ve got a lovely old cemetery near us so we’ll try this out on Easter Sunday.
Thanks so much! I’m going to implement a lot of your ideas this week, Saren. I really appreciate this!
Kimberly Tremblay says
Funny story, not sure if you remember me, we ran into each other at the fire station park a few years ago, your twins and mine were both playing there. I remembered you from Longfellow park ward and remember your sister Sadie also. You and I had exchanged numbers and then not too long after we moved back to New England. Anyway, I randomly found your blog as I was searching Pinterest for Easter activities. I saw the Easter clothes in the baskets and love that idea. I do many of the same things, I love Easter , and having been raised Catholic “Holy Week”. I didn’t look at your picture right away but was reading, agreeing and thinking, she has got to be LDS. Then when I saw the scenery and your kids I thought, they look familiar and scrolled up to your picture – I know her!! I love your blog and links and plan to check it out more, The whole blogging world is new to me, I admire you for all your accomplishments, you are amazing! Hoping to make it back out to Utah at some point but for now we are enjoying New England again. Hope you are well!
Saren Eyre Loosli says
So glad to be reconnected – again! Please follow my blog and “friend” me on Facebook and let me know how to best keep in touch with you. Oh, how I love Easter Week and I’m so glad you stumbled across this and can use some of these ideas for your family.
Great ideas, thank you! Would love the lentil soup recipe if you’re willing to share!
Wow! You have inspired me. I have never thought about the week leading up to Easter. This is a tradition that I want to start with my kids. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this and give me so many good ideas to share what Easter really means with my kids!
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I love your ideas here. Last year was our first year that we celebrated the whole week of Easter. It added a beautiful spirit to our home. Can’t wait to do this again this year. We now decorate eggs on the first day of spring so that Easter is strictly a religious holiday.
Betty Desmond says
Saren, you are so amazing. I too, like you had 4 boys and a girl; mine are grown up now; your children are so beautiful; I wish I knew you 20 years ago when my kids were little; I could have learned a lot about motherhood. I’m a first generation LDS grandmother and love the work you are doing. You and April and your parents inspire me greatly.I wish I had my time as mother again. Keep up the good work inspiring the new generation.
Thank you for your great ideas! You mentioned on your Wednesday you have some good kids books you use that focus on the parables. Can you tell me what books you use? I would really like to get some for our family. Thank you.