Like most religious holidays, Easter can get lost in the commercialized side of the holiday with egg hunts, baskets full of goodies and my personal favorite — the addiction cycle spawned by the Cadbury Mini-Egg.
So a few years ago, I decided to reclaim Easter. I wanted my children to really appreciate what the holiday is about, and why something that happened 2,000 years ago across the world matters to our lives today.
First, we bumped the bunny. That’s right. We politely left a note for the Easter Bunny a few days before Easter, telling him that we really wanted to focus on Jesus Christ on Sunday, so could he maybe come on Saturday instead?
And he agreed!
He’s been coming on Saturdays ever since, and just that little change has allowed our family to get all the fun Easter egg hunts and springtime baskets out of the way so on Sunday, we can talk about the Atonement. We still do a small hunt on actual Easter, but there are only 12 eggs and each one has a token representing something that happened in the last week of Jesus’ life (like three pieces of silver or a little sacrament cup).
But moving the Easter Bunny wasn’t enough. We also needed to focus on Easter for longer than just one morning if my children were going to really feel the importance of the day when it arrived.
So, we started celebrating the entire week of Easter. Each day, we look at what Jesus did on that day during his last week on earth. Here’s how it goes:
• Sunday (Palm Sunday): Read Matthew 21:6-11. Make palm fronds out of construction paper. Discuss what you might shout if you saw Jesus, and how we can praise him in other ways today.
• Monday (Love One Another): Read John 13:34-35. Draw an Easter tree. Decorate the branches with pictures that represent the love Jesus has for us or how we can show our love for others.
• Tuesday (Parables): Read several parables Jesus taught on this day. (The Ten Virgins, the Talents, the Widow’s Mite). Decorate an offering can and write on slips of paper what you could offer to Jesus.
• Wednesday (The Last Supper): Read John 13:1-22. Take turns washing each other’s feet. What was Jesus trying to teach the apostles?
• Thursday (The Garden of Gethsemane): Read Matthew 26. Discuss what the Atonement means.
• Friday (The Crucifixion): Read Matthew 27.10 comments on this story
• Saturday: Discuss how Jesus’ friends and apostles waited and looked for signs that Jesus would rise again. Make binoculars from toilet paper rolls and use them on a walk to look for signs of spring.
• Easter Sunday: Read Matthew 28:2-4.
As we celebrate the entire week and think of what Jesus would have done and taught on each day, Easter has come to mean so much more than eggs and candy and an inexplicably creepy life-size bunny. It's about a sacrifice. It's about love. And most importantly, it's about the resurrection that saved us all.