We've decided to do away with candy at Easter. We had already not been into the Easter bunny scene, that not having anything to do with the resurrection and wanting every opportunity to reinforce the resurrection with our kids. But this year it became apparent that even a little bit of candy becomes the focus for them and takes their minds off of Jesus. So our 5-year-old came up with "Mom, let's not have candy next year. It doesn't have anything to do with Jesus dying on the cross." Well, okay! Encouraged by my preschooler, I decided that from here on out, we will not be doing any candy on Easter. However, that doesn't mean that jellybeans, peeps, and other fun candy generally associated with Easter time is inherently evil. So we're having a once-a-year Jellybean Day - tentatively planned to come on April 1st. We'll hide the eggs with the candy if the kids want that, or we've also just talked about hiding jellybeans in fun, random places to be found throughout the day. And there you have it - Resurrection Sunday stands out as a celebration of Jesus, and the kids can still have the fun of the candy - on a different day.
Yes, I know that Christians have tried to make even jellybeans proclaim the gospel by coming up with the Jellybean Prayer where every color is symbolic of something pertaining to the passion. To me, this is creative, but still justification - believe me, my 5 and 3-year-old came home from church with some jellybeans and a little bookmark with the Jellybean Prayer and the jellybeans got consumed while the bookmark still sits in a pile somewhere, forgotten amidst candy.
Ideas to CELEBRATE the RESURRECTION with your kids:
1) We do the Resurrection Eggs - each egg has a small item reminding kids of a part of the Easter story. There are 12 eggs, and as we go through Passion Week, we typically open 2 each night after dinner, discuss, and then put the items back in the eggs. One egg is saved for Resurrection Day - and that egg is empty. Later in the day, we hide these eggs around the house, the kids find them, take out the items and put them in order of occurrence, we talk about it once again, and then the eggs are packed away again.
2) Play Easter music all day long!! I realized a few years back how there (to my knowledge and after extensive searching) are no "Easter" cd's, so I made my own that is a compilation of songs off of various cd's. Even then, out of 350+ cd's that I searched through, I found maybe 14 songs directly relating to the resurrection.
3) Have your kids draw pictures depicting scenes from Passion Week, and decorate with them - get rid of the bunnies!
4) Celebrate with other believers at church (this should have been number 1 I guess).
5) At the special meal of the day, invite each person to put into their own words something they feel thankful for about Jesus.
6) Teach your kids the Easter greeting "He is risen!!" This is more appropriate than the trite "Happy Easter!" that believers are reducing the resurrection to more and more. Nothing says bunny like "Happy Easter!" Nothing says Jesus like "He is risen!"
**more to come - we're still working on this ourselves, but we want to incorporate more and more God-glorifying activities each year. Let me know if you have any ideas.
Hi Sarah:) Your ideas are awesome! I like the idea of having a totally separate day for the secular stuff - I had heard of the idea to do the egg hunt/egg coloring the night before Easter, so that's what we did, but I don't think it's spaced far enough from Easter to separate the two! We've done what's called a Lenten tree, last year and this year, where we cut branches from a bush or tree and place them in water - the "force bloom" idea - and then for 2 weeks before Easter, we hang one ornament on the tree, representing part of the Easter story and read the corresponding Scripture. The particular set of verses I use starts way back in Genesis with the fall and then ends up in Matthew/John with the week before Christ's death. Rachel had a blast with it this year:) Last year we also did resurrection cookies, where every ingredient and step incorporates part of the Easter story - the only thing I didn't like was that they were cookies and we hardly ate any of them, especially Rachel:), so this year we tried tomb rolls, which are cinnamon rolls wrapped around a marshmallow that melts when you bake them, leaving a hollow middle, like the empty tomb. We had those on Easter Sunday morning - I thought they were great - Jim thought they were still too sweet, oh well:) It was symbolic anyhow! I totally agree with you about the Easter music thing - I hadn't thought of trying to find a CD of music, so now I know it's not out there, sadly! YOu'll have to commission one or something:)
Thanks for your insights!
The tomb rolls sound yummy! Could you leave the recipe here? I also like the idea of the Easter tree.
Here's the recipe:
1 pkg. Rhodes frozen bread dough rolls
1 pkg. large marshmallows
1/4 cup melted butter
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
Partially unthaw the dough. Pat out each roll large enough to form around a marshmallow. Form dough around the marshmallow and pinch seams together. Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a separate bowl. Roll the dough in melted butter, then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place in greased muffin trays - seam side down. Let rise (allow 4-5 hours for rising). Bake according to package directions (about 15 minutes). Rolls will be "empty" when you open them.
A great book that I've found regarding Easter family devos and the Lenten tree can be found at Amazon.com at
Hope that helps:)
We tried making something like your empty tomb rolls last year I think but they had some chopped peanuts in them and Caleb started wheezing and coughing a little and having an allergic reaction so that wasn't a very good experience!
We made those Resurrection Cookies one year and I thought they tasted disgusting. They were a cool experience for the kids, though, and Clara still remembers the story each time I bring out one of the ingredients that symbolized the passion story (especially the vinegar). I'll have to try the cinnamon ones next year. The Lenten Tree sounds similar to the "Jesse Tree" often used during Advent to tell the history of our salvation.
I think one profound experience for our kids has been the fact that for forty days prior to Easter (Lent) we have been experiencing our own "desert" like the days Jesus spent fasting and praying. The Triduum only intensifies our sacrifice and also our anticipation of the resurrection. On Easter morning, we celebrate with a new crown (the crown of thorns in which a thorn is removed each time a child makes a sacrifice or good deed has been replaced with a crown covered in ribbons and flowers) and "Alleluia" music (we've refrained from using the phrase in our tradition throughout all of Lent). During Mass, our season of feasting begins--Easter lasts for 50 days until the Feast of Pentecost. Therefore, the extra treats on Easter are used in a way to celebrate Christ's Resurrection-- the jelly beans as well as the ham and cheesy potatoes or whatever your Easter meal tradition is. People use food to celebrate in many different ways and it doesn't have to detract from the message. I am still hearing our mantra "He is Risen; truly He is Risen!" being shouted throughout the home.
Us non-Catholic believers could benefit more from more focus on the days leading up to Easter and on the days after. Basically, just more focus in general on the liturgical calendar.
Thanks for the ideas, Molly!
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