Aside from the traditional fun of the Easter bunny and Easter baskets, it can be tricky to figure out how to integrate one of the most important moments in Christianity in a way that the whole family can understand. Christmas is easy! Who doesn’t love newborn babies? But Easter can be a little more difficult.
Here are some family-friendly Easter ideas to help you celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection that maybe don’t require watching Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ… which is also an option, perhaps, with viewer discretion, for your older children, armed with Kleenex.
Family Foot Washing
As you prepare for Easter Sunday, don’t miss out on opportunities to commemorate the other powerful moments Jesus’ disciples experienced with him before he was arrested. You can recreate and celebrate Maundy Thursday, when Jesus and the apostles gathered in the Upper Room for their Last Supper together. Maundy Thursday remembers the introduction of Communion, or Eucharist. It is also when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and told them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
To celebrate Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, with your family, plan a special meal, share communion together, and then take Jesus’ words to heart—prepare a foot washing. Parents, wash your children’s feet first, and then let them take a turn washing yours. All you’ll need is a small tub, some warm water, and some soft towels.
Good Friday Stations of the Cross
Following the Last Supper, Jesus went with a few of his disciples into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Various church traditions remember Jesus’ journey to the cross by reading together and thinking about each of the places Jesus went before he was crucified. This is called the “Stations of the Cross,” and it is meant to be active.
Loyola Press offers a PDF you can download to walk through the 14 stations of the cross with your children. Perhaps consider going on a hike with your family, and every time you see something of interest to look at on your walk, read and pray through another station of the cross. Collect a rock, twig, leaf, flower, or other object for each “station” along your hike. When you come home, have your children arrange their collection into the shape of a cross.
Holy Saturday Rest
The Saturday before Jesus rose from the dead was the Jewish Sabbath. The word “Sabbath” means rest. To me, Holy Saturday is one of the darkest days in the Christian calendar—the Light of the world appeared to be extinguished.
Stand outside in the dark or take a walk at night on Holy Saturday with your family. In a safe place, turn off all of the lights you can. Talk about what it might have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples who thought this was the end of the road. How would they have felt? What would they have been thinking? Do you think they were scared? Turn your flashlight or outdoor lights back on. How did it feel to be in the dark? How does it feel to be back in the light? Jesus, the Light of the world, was killed on a cross, but death did not defeat him. Instead, the Light of the world shined again, on Easter morning!
The Frugal Homemaker provides more detailed instructions if you need them, but essentially, you’ll want to gather a short basin, a small clay or plastic planter pot, a small bag of soil, small rocks, one large flat rock, grass seed or moss, and some sticks. If your home has a yard or woods that you can dig around in, you could probably find most of what you need right in your own backyard, but if that isn’t the case, pop over to your local hardware store or garden center to find everything you need.
This is a wonderful hands-on activity that can help you talk through the resurrection story with your children, especially your little ones, as you assemble the garden.
Paint Your Own Stained Glass Window
Stained glass windows have been a part of our artistic, cultural, and religious history for over 1,000 years. They served a practical purpose of letting light into cathedrals, but they also told stories. You and your family can make your own stained glass window at home to tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Crafty Morning offers instructions on how to make the shape of the cross, rays of light, and brightly colored panes to announce that Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed!