Easter is a holiday surrounded in controversy and emotion. Even amongst Christians, there are many different opinions over which are acceptable traditions. However, how you celebrate Easter does not matter as much as what you celebrate about Easter. Do you celebrate a big, fuzzy bunny? Do you celebrate new life and re-birth and mother earth? Do you celebrate a risen King, one who was sacrificed for sin and then resurrected by a Sovereign God? These are the lines that divide the most. The many different paths that take you there are open for interpretation.
For me, my dissatisfaction with our Easter celebrations began three years ago. My eldest daughter was five. For several Easter’s prior, we had attempted to happily integrate some common childhood celebrations into our Easter tradition. We own a set of Resurrection Eggs, and we held an Easter egg hunt at our house. Afterward, we tried to read through the Easter story together the way the set instructs. However, I found that no matter what I tried I couldn’t keep my daughter’s attention. She was more interested in her bounty from the hunt. What did all the other little plastic eggs contain? What treasures lay inside to be discovered?
One Easter I attempted to read through the story first, but that didn’t work much better. My daughters wanted to know when the egg hunt was going to begin. When sweets and treats are in the picture, it seems, little else can compete for the child’s attention. When my daughters were 6 and 3, I began to get very anxious as Easter approached. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I did know what I did not want to do. I did not want to lose focus of the real holiday. But how? I lucked out of doing anything that year. By the time the next easter rolled around I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
So began our new Easter tradition: The 12 Days of Easter. Much like Advent, but for Easter, because Easter is just as important as Christmas and deserves just as much attention and intention. If Jesus had not been born in humanly form, he could not have been sacrificed for our sin, and if Jesus had not paid that price, God’s purpose for his earthly birth would not have been fulfilled. They are two halves to the whole story.
During the 12 days leading up to Easter, we hold a small devotion each night before bed. Using the pieces from our Resurrection Egg set and the booklet that came with it, we spend 12 days walking through various aspect of the Easter story. During the course of that time, we will also do other Easter crafts from various books and online resources. At some point we will watch The Jesus Film, An Easter Carol, and The Passion of The Christ. The night before Easter we will make Resurrection cookies, and the morning of Easter, the girls and I will get up early to watch the sun rise and have a bible study. When we started the tradition last year, I decided to also include an Easter gift for Easter morning – something that would bless them and encourage spiritual growth. Princess received a new bible (The Princess Bible by Thomas Nelson), and Drama Queen received a devotional (God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh.)
The best part is that the entire 12 days are spent looking forward towards Easter morning. It truly is Christ-focused. As a mother, there is little that warms my heart more than seeing my children worship God.
There are other paths to this point, to be sure. No one thing works for every family. You could include an egg hunt if it worked out for your family. Even coloring eggs can be used to teach your children about God. The egg represents us, the water represents God. The boiling water changes the inside of the egg, similar to how God changes us on the inside. At first the egg doesn’t look any different that the raw eggs. But after you color it, it changes into something new. It is no longer just an egg, it is an Easter egg. A new creation. When God changes our hearts, we are instantly new and different on the inside. When we clothe ourselves in Christ on the outside, the change is visible to all.
If you need ideas for this Easter, consider these resources:
Regardless of the traditions you choose this Easter holiday, I encourage you to keep Christ as the center and focus.