OK, Christians. We need to talk. We need to make a bigger deal out of Easter.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m super frustrated with the commercialization of holidays in our society. Do we really need funny green hats for St. Patrick’s Day, jack-o-lantern T-shirts for Halloween and heart-shaped throw pillows for Valentine’s Day? (Seriously, who changes out their pillows for Valentine’s?)
But when it comes to Easter, I say, bring on all the holiday decor, clothing and foods that can remotely be justified by the occasion. Let’s really celebrate. And let’s show our kids this is the most important holiday of them all.
Easter is the most important, you know, if you’re a Christian. Many think Christmas most significant, and, indeed, Christ’s birth is a staggering and a holy moment in history. But there would be no reason to celebrate Christmas if it weren’t for Easter. Without Easter, Christmas is the birth of a baby. With Easter, Christmas is the birth of a Savior.
But somehow, Christmas is the holiday that attracts attention for many of us, and especially, the one that stirs childhood dreams and joys. We need to shift our focus … and the focus of our families.
Please don’t get me wrong. I know decorations, favorite foods and traditional activities do not make a holiday. They are not what Christmas or Easter is about. But they do, in some way, help us understand the importance of a day. They help us make a physical connection to what we are celebrating. They say, “this day matters” … especially to children.
My husband and I want our children to have magical memories of Easter. We want that day to mean joy and hope and love to them. Here are a few ideas we’ve implemented in our family, or seen others put into practice. May it be said, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, that we “kept Easter well.”
Deck the Halls
Holiday trappings can help bolster Easter excitement. Thankfully, there’s a growing number of options here … Target and Hobby Lobby in particular have hopped (pun intended) on this bandwagon, and Pinterest has tons of ideas for DIY or do-together decor.
You can also bring a little springtime in by displaying flowering branches in a vase.
Update decorative message boards with phrases like, “He is not here; he has risen! (Luke 24:6a)” or just a simple, “Hallelujah!”
The Southcrest Baptist Church MOPS group helped moms make a Holy Week countdown calendar last year and I’m so excited to put it to use during our daily devotions. You can find instructions for one like we made, using smooth stones, here. The calendar and assigned scriptures cover the events of each day of Holy Week, ending on Resurrection Sunday.
Take time for tradition
Be purposeful in the foods and activities you plan.
Watch Easter movies together: “Easter Parade” for nostalgia, VeggieTales’ “An Easter Carol” for a kid-pleasing, clear message about the meaning of the holiday; “The Passion of the Christ” for teens and adults.
Listen to Easter music … “Was it a Morning Like This,” “Peter’s Song,” “In Christ Alone.” VeggieTales comes to the rescue again here with, “A Very Veggie Easter,” a mix of fun (“How Now, Easter Cow”) and traditional songs about the holiday.
Do the crazy-annoying matching Easter outfits thing. Your kids might hate it, but they’ll certainly remember it. Also, ladies, let’s bring back the ginormous Easter hats. The bigger the better.
And, most importantly, attend church as a family on Resurrection Sunday. Take a picture outside to help your children remember the moment.
Thrill of the hunt
Take part in at least one Easter egg hunt. If you do one at home, hide an empty egg as an object lesson for kiddos: This egg is empty, just like the tomb!
Many West Texas businesses and churches also present free hunts.
Focus on the Family offers wonderful information and ideas about Easter. I’m especially impressed by their free “Walking Through Holy Week” guide. It includes ideas for daily activities, recipes, instructions for games, printable craft projects and discussion points to cover as a family.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Easter traditions. It’s not a universal Christian practice to use the Paschal Greeting, but regardless of your denomination, the words ring beautiful and true. Let’s put the greeting and response to use this Resurrection Sunday:
“He is risen!”
“He is risen, indeed.”