As we draw closer and closer to Easter and visit shops that are full of Easter chocolates and bunnies, you might like me wonder at the commercialism of it all and how we can possibly get away from it. As a Christian mum I want my children to know the real meaning of Easter and not just about chocolates. I want them to know that the God who created the universe loves us so much that he sent his son to take our wrongdoings, to reconnect us with God; so that our life would be better now and forever.
So how do I attempt to pass this on to my children with all the commercialism surrounding Easter?
In about the last 5 years we have started the tradition of having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Although this doesn’t have much spiritual significance it does give us a chance to talk about where this tradition comes from. See this Youtube clip to find out more about Shrove Tuesday.
We usually attend church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday whether we are at home or away. We have even attended a Sunrise service on the beach at Caloundra. My children do have a visit from the Easter Bunny. However we have also usually give them a non-chocolate present from us such as a Christian book or video, thus helping to show them what we value and what we believe is the true Easter story. When my daughter was about 5/6 she noted that the Easter eggs were hollow just like the empty tomb because Jesus has risen. Years ago when I was working on an Easter talk my son had woken up and was reading some of it. He said that he liked the hollow eggs that were full of God’s love. Some where something that he had heard had given him that idea. Somehow I think the true message is getting through.
A tradition that I started with my children when they were tiny is the making of resurrection cookies on the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. It is a family activity and as each ingredient is added a little bit of the Easter story is explained and there is a Bible passage to look up. Finally the cookies are placed in the oven, the oven is turned off and sealed with tape and left over night. Just like Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb and the tomb was sealed. The next morning on Easter Sunday the oven is unsealed and everyone gets to try the cookies. As they are meringues they are hollow inside and we can proclaim that Jesus is risen. If you Google “Resurrection Cookies” you will find the recipe everywhere, however this links to one of the most original sources of it.
Lent Event is a something that we have participated in during the last few years. Where you give up something for lent, say a cup of coffee, and the money saved is given to overseas communities in need. My children have voluntarily participated in this and given money over the years as well. The idea of giving up something for lent was very foreign to me and I thought of it as a very catholic thing at first. However I have found it helpful in the last few years to give up something and to reflect more on God.
Last year we read an Easter Story, Amon’s Adventure, which was set in the time of Jesus and led up to his crucifixion and resurrection. The main character, a boy, gets to witness much of the final weeks of Jesus’ life on earth. It has 28 Chapters so you could spread them over the whole of lent or read 1 a night for the 4 weeks leading up to Easter. We have also enjoyed Arnold Ytreeide’s Advent books and have read one of the 3 advent books for the last 8 or 9 years in the lead up to Christmas.
For us it has been about trying to make our Christianity a part of our everyday life and the traditions that we have established with our children.
What do you do to help your children understand the true meaning of Easter?