Last year, Neighbor J had spent some time researching Easter and the origins of its terms and traditions and urged me to do the same. While ultimately our families came to different conclusions, I am very glad that I spent the time trying to learn about it (FYI - I found the Answers in Genesis series on Easter to be a good place to start). I never want to be a lukewarm Christian, only doing what others do because I haven't thought about it.
The two main "problems" with Easter seem to be 1) the worries over its pagan roots and 2) the commercialization and loss of Christ-centered celebration.
It terms of paganism, we aren't particularly worried about it. I don't believe the term Easter itself has pagan originals (see a refutation of that here) so I personally have no problem calling it "Easter." I don't have an issue with calling it Resurrection Sunday or Pascha either and try to be sensitive to those around me and use the term they prefer, especially when talking to their children (just as I hope those who know our beliefs would not deliberately ask our child if they asked Santa Claus for anything). We are also comfortable using Easter eggs in our celebrations. There is a lot of wonderful symbolism that is present in the Easter egg that I don't think needs to be lost just because other (false) religions have used eggs as symbols as well.
The Easter bunny is a different story. That is where the commercialization issue enters the picture. I just don't see the point of Lucy believing that some random big rabbit is going to be delivering her candy and gifts. So we won't be doing a bunch of crafts making bunnies from cotton balls or anything like that and when Lucy gets a gift, she'll know it is from her mom and dad (or grandma, grandpa, etc).
So that's basically where we are when it comes to Easter. I really do believe this is a conscience issue and I would never want someone to encourage someone to celebrate in a way that made them feel like they were sinning. I'm glad we researched and Craig and I talked about it while Lucy was young. We are now both comfortable with where we stand and are excited to building our family traditions and start celebrating. But how?
Well, that's tricky since Lucy's not even two. And as brilliant as I obviously think she is, a lot of the really cool things I've been reading about (Resurrection egg sets, Easter garden, Resurrection cookies) would probably leave at least one of us frustrated.
That doesn't mean I don't think she is ready for anything. Advent/Christmas was a big success and almost everything we did seemed to really stick with her. It just takes a bit of work to find things. Of course, with being sick and tired these last few months, Easter kinda snuck up on me so things will be pretty low key.
Seder supper/Passover Meal:We've been doing this as a family for several years, I think this will be our fourth. You'd think by now I would somewhat of a routine by now. Nope, not really, each year I just kinda wing it. Although looking back on lasts years post, I guess I thought it would be better to make the foods (matza, charoset, hardboiled eggs, etc) and just read the story instead of trying to follow a script. Perhaps this year I will listen to myself?
Either way, the fun part for Lucy and I is preparing everything to ensure that the dinner is special, even if it ends up short and/or frequently interrupted. We clean, set a pretty table and put up our decorations. Well, decoration is more like it. All I have is our Easter banner. I'd love to do more though it seems like I always say "next year" - although I doubt I'll have more time next year with an almost two and a half year old plus a 6-7 month old. Growing up we had a neat little Easter tree with tiny eggs that I think were made of wood. I'd love to make or find something similar someday.
Resurrection Rolls:Less steps and less waiting (toddlers don't do waiting very well) than resurrection cookies, these involve rolling a marshmallow in butter and cinnamon sugar, wrapping it in a crescent roll and baking. They aren't a very healthy snack although I'll try to improve them a bit by using a homemade crescent roll dough. I could attempt to make my own marshmallows but that isn't going to happen, this year at least.
The marshmallow represent a pure white, sinless Christ.
The versions I've seen say to have the butter represent the anointing oil and the sugar mix represent spices but 1) that's a bit much for a toddler and 2) Jesus didn't get "spiced" did he? Wasn't that why the women were headed to the tomb on Easter morning? Instead, we'll talk about how Jesus took our sins and now looks dirty (succanot, cinammon and butter will be a perfect "dirt"). He did this because He loves us and because it was part of God's "rescue plan" ("rescue plan" is a term her Jesus Storybook Bible uses so she is familiar with it. I'll be trying to incorporate the stories we're read from there as much as possible).
Then we bury Jesus and our sins in a crescent roll tomb. After we bake them, the marshmallow Jesus disappears and we are left with a hollow tomb of a roll. Our sins are gone and Jesus is alive!
Easter Books:Of course, what holiday is complete without some special books. No Twiddle Twaddle has a huge list of Easter themed books (here is her summary post). Lots of them are Easter bunny stories so we'll skip those but there are several books that tell the Easter story or talk about the traditions of Easter. I've already put The Bird's Gift and On That Easter Morning on hold at our library plus we'll be steering Lucy's bedtime bible story selection towards the Passover and crucifiction/resurrection areas of The Jesus Storybook Bible as best we can.
Resurrection Eggs (simplified):I haven't decided if I'll be doing these or not. It probably depends on whether I can easily find a tiny cross :-) But my idea, gleaned and tweaked from the originals and other versions I've seen, would involve only 4 eggs and follows the stories emphasized in the Jesus Storybook Bible pretty closely.
1) Bread (leftover matza?)
2) Grass/leaves (represent garden)
4) Empty egg/tomb
Easter basket:Just as food and decorations are important elements of celebrations, I think gifts can have their place too, as long as they aren't the focus. I recently bought a bunch of art supplies for Lucy but kept out a few to put in her basket. I also want to make sure there is something to help grow her faith. Last year she received her Jesus Storybook Bible which she now loves (and I highly recommend as you can probably tell from the multiple references to it in the post) and I think this year she'll be getting a scripture CD. I'm torn between Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart and Hidden in My Heart: A Lullaby Journey through Scripture. I suppose I should decide soon so I get it in time to actually put it in her basket.
For now, she won't be getting candy - except a chocolate bunny/lamb (I'd rather have a lamb but probably won't be able to find one) so she can share it with mom and if he is lucky (and quick) dad, too. When she is old enough to miss it, we'll probably find something suitable to put in there (this post has a couple good ideas)
I can't really say how well these will work out, but that's the plan at least. So what are you planning for this special week?
*Quick sidenote: I pretty much missed Lent altogether this year but I started a Beth Moore study in January that is turning out to be a perfect prelude to Easter. I should have finished it a while ago but I've had to take the slow (but steady!) approach and will be finishing it up right about Easter. Neither the study nor the timing was intentional but God must have known :-)