Though Easter was brought about through sacrifice, pain and death, we do not dwell on those things. We remember Jesus' act of love and as Christian parents we try to teach our children about the meaning of sacrifice, but what we celebrate is the resulting beauty of the resurrection. We emphasize the risen Lord, not the one who was in the grave. We happily look forward, not only to eternity spent with Him, but to the advent of Spring in the calendar year. How you celebrate is probably a combination of traditions you were brought up with and your own new ideas.
When I was growing up, we always wore our best clothes on Easter Sunday. My mother, being a seamstress of sorts, often made matching dresses for her and I, while my two older brothers and my father wore suits and ties. At some point during the day, jelly beans were hidden around the house and we were each given a cup. Our job was to find as many jelly beans as we could. My bothers would, more often, return with cups much fuller than mine, but I didn't mind. I think I enjoyed the ham dinner and the desert afterwords more than the jelly beans. We were also given Easter baskets with various candy and chocolate Easter bunnies.
When I became a parent, I thought it would be fun to take the jelly bean hunt to a whole new level and have a treasure hunt. After all, I wasn't a big fan of jelly beans. Several months before Easter I would begin shopping for little toys, candies or other items my girls might like. I would wrap them in tissue paper, gift bags or gift wrap and proceed to hide them all over the house and yard (if the weather allowed). I would make clues which Rebecca and Rachel would have to follow. Sometimes, one clue only led to another clue. But eventually a clue would lead to a gift. This hunt was such a hit that now, Rachel wants me to plan a hunt for her son Quintin. Oh, just twist my arm!
There are so many wonderful things families can do together outside of the actual church services. These days many churches host egg hunts and other fun activities making the celebration last from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Here are a few suggestions for making Easter, not just about gifts and candy, but about Jesus.
1. Get "resurrection eggs" and use these to tell the story of Easter.
2. Plan a jelly bean hunt, or a treasure hunt and every time something is found, read a portion of the Easter story from the Bible.
3. Color eggs. While you're doing this fun activity with your kids or grandkids listen to Christian music, or talk about how an egg symbolizes the Triune God, and new life.
4. Plan a nature hike. In the midwest we don't know what the weather will be like, but as long as it is not raining, go to a nearby park or out in your back yard and talk to the kids about God's creation.
5. With your older kids you could watch a classic old movie such as Ben-Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told, or The Passion of the Christ (this is very graphic and should only be shown at your discretion). Talk with your children about the movie, ask questions about the portrayals in the movies and how it compares to scripture. Ben-Hur is a fictional account based on the novel by Lew Wallace.
6. Have your kids help prepare the Easter meal. Have them be involved in setting the table, getting out decorations and tossing the salad.
7. When your family is sitting down to eat spend a few moments letting people pray or express things they are grateful for. Gratitude doesn't just have to be for Thanksgiving.
In the comments section below share some of your Easter family traditions and ideas.
God bless you as you celebrate the glory of our Risen Lord.