Weeks before Easter, my mother would begin creating Easter eggs. She used melted beeswax in a coffee tin lid to make strokes on the eggs using a straight pin in the end of a wooden matchstick. Then she soaked the eggs overnight in Chick-Chick dye. When she scraped off the wax with a butter knife, the white patterns stood out against vivid colors. My book Living Faith at Home, which offers suggestions for nurturing the Catholic faith in “the domestic church,” includes ideas for celebrating Easter. You might adopt one or two from the following excerpt:
Easter (not Christmas) is the highpoint of our Church year because on that day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ that made possible our own resurrection. His resurrection is the foundation of our Christian faith. Just as God saved his people from death by the blood of the Passover lamb and led them out of slavery to the Promised Land, Jesus, the Lamb of God, by his blood saved us from sin and death and made it possible for us to enter heaven. Make Easter a fantastic celebration at your house.
* * *
Spring Flowers In September, plant crocus, tulip, daffodil, or hyacinth bulbs in the form of a cross, an egg, a banner, or a word or phrase such as Alleluia, new life, or He is risen. Then hold a prayer service that includes sprinkling the bulbs in the ground with holy water and reading Jesus’s words in John 12:24. In the spring the flowers that bloom will send an Easter message. An alternative is to “plant” colorful Easter eggs in the ground in the shape of a cross or other Easter symbol on Holy Saturday.
Butterflies A butterfly is a resurrection symbol. Make cloth or paper butterflies and decorate your home with them. Talk about a caterpillar’s new life as a butterfly. Give everyone a butterfly pin, card, or bookmark.
Lily Purchase an Easter lily for your home. Explain that this flower is shaped like a trumpet as though it announces the resurrection. Its white color stands for purity, while its gold stamens symbolize royalty and glory.
Resurrection Scene Create an Easter morning scene in your home or in your garden. Make a cave tomb out of papier mâché and use small figures to represent the women, the soldiers, and the apostles.
Banner Work together to make a family Easter banner out of paper, felt, or burlap. Your design could include any of these: Alleluia, He is risen, a cross, lilies, a butterfly, and a lamb. Hang your banner in a window or on the porch for all to see.
Easter Candle Create a family Easter (Paschal) candle. Use contact paper or red fingernail polish, paint, or permanent marker to make a plus sign as a cross and put a digit of the year in each quadrant, beginning with the top left one. Make an alpha above the cross and an omega below it. These first and last letters of the Greek alphabet stand for Jesus as the beginning and the end. Set five red tacks, pins, cloves, or grains of incense in the cross for the five wounds. Light the candle on Easter and during the Easter season. When you light it, pray, “Light of Christ” to which all respond, “Thanks be to God.”
New Clothes Have everyone wear at least one new article of clothing on Easter. New clothes stand for the new life we have through Christ’s death and resurrection. We wear them as a sign that we have “put on Christ.”
Easter Sunrise Watch the sunrise and afterward enjoy a sunrise breakfast picnic. Read the Easter story from the Bible (Mark 16:1–8). Sing or play an Easter song such as the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
Easter Eggs A chick emerging from an egg is like Jesus coming out of the tomb. Decorate Easter eggs with Christian symbols and bless them. The custom of plain red eggs comes from the legend that Mary Magdalene, carrying a basket of eggs, visited Pontius Pilate and told him that Jesus had risen. Pilate replied he would believe that no more than he would believe that the eggs would turn red. And they did.
Make Easter baskets and deliver them to friends and neighbors. Set a basket on your table as the centerpiece. Hang real or paper Easter eggs on a tree in the house or outside.
Hold an Easter egg hunt and award a prize to the one who finds the most. Mark one egg as special and let the person who finds it use it to tap everyone else’s egg open to eat.
Lamb Cake Make a lamb cake, using coconut for wool, a raisin for an eye, and a cherry mouth. It stands for the Lamb of God sacrificed for us.
Cross Cake Create a cross cake by baking two cakes in oblong pans. Cut one cake in thirds. Place one third at the top of the other cake and a third on each side of it to form a cross. Then frost the cake.
Easter Bread Make or purchase Easter bread. One recipe calls for eggs in their colored shells to be set on the dough. In another one, dough is braided along the perimeter to resemble the crown of thorns. For some Easter breads, raisins and nuts are added to the dough.
Bunny Salad Because rabbits are prolific, they symbolize the abundant new life of Easter. Make salad in the form of a rabbit head. For each serving, set half a pear on a lettuce leaf. Add carrots or celery sticks for ears; raisins, olives, or grape halves for eyes; and a cherry for the mouth. For whiskers, use spaghetti or string licorice, or draw them with cream cheese.
Jelly Beans Use the colors of jelly beans to tell the Easter story: Black is for sins, red is for the blood Jesus shed, purple is for his sorrow or royalty, white is for our purity now, green is for our new life in Jesus, yellow is for the rising sun, orange is for heaven, and pink is for our joy.
Luminaria Display luminaria outside. To make one, turn down the top of a small paper bag to form a rim. Cut crosses or other symbols out of the bag so that the light will shine through it. (Don’t make the designs too big, or wind might blow out the candle.) Fill the bag one-fourth full of sand, dirt, or kitty litter. Place a small candle in the sand and anchor it to stand. Set the bag in your front yard or put several luminaria along your front walk. Light the candles at sundown. They will go out when they reach the level of the sand. Instead of a bag, you could use plastic milk jugs.
Resurrection Story Cookies On the evening before Easter, make resurrection cookies. As you add each ingredient, read a related Scripture verse about Jesus. Place the cookies in a warmed oven. The next morning you will have meringue cookies that are empty inside like Jesus’ tomb. One recipe for these cookies and the accompanying Scripture verses can be found at www.annieshomepage.com/resurrectioncookies.html.
Stations of the Resurrection Pray the Resurrection Stations, the Way of Light, together. Can be found on the Internet.
Easter Walk Go for a walk as a family and notice signs of new life.
Remember, we celebrate Easter for 50 days!
BOOK REVIEW Living Faith at Home: Catholic Practices and Prayers
Mary Kathleen Glavich, SND 74 pages, $8.00
The home is where children first meet and speak to the God who loves us. “Living Faith at Home” is a gold mine of ideas to help families practice the Catholic traditions and pray the prayers that strengthen and nourish our faith. It suggests how to create a Catholic atmosphere, observe the Church seasons like Advent and Lent, and celebrate feasts and special family events like birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
Topics are arranged alphabetically and include angels, creation, death, fasting, Mary, virtues, and works of mercy. The book ends with a collection of Catholic prayers, traditional ones like the Our Father and favorite ones like the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis. It also has an Advent wreath ritual, Stations of the Cross, as well as how to pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The goal is to assist families in becoming the domestic churches they are meant to be.
Parents, grandparents, as well as Directors of Religious Education and principals who support parents, will treasure this book.
• What is your favorite Easter tradition?