A few years ago as Easter drew near, I felt overwhelmed with the importance of creating some traditions that would have a lasting impression on my young family. I felt happy with the traditions we had established for Christmas- but I felt that we were sorely lacking in how to help my children, and myself, truly honor the magnitude of Easter. I realized that I wanted Easter to become a treasured time–a favorite holiday, and a chance to teach them of the Savior’s ministry and time here on Earth.
As I sought for inspiration and guidance of how to do this, I felt impressed to help my children to learn about the details of Holy Week, the Savior’s last week on earth. So, we started doing just that! Easter Week has become a special tradition in our family! Starting with Palm Sunday, we make this a week long celebration. Every evening we have time set aside, where we commemorate, study, act-out and talk about the Savior’s life and what He did on that day.
WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE
We try to incorporate this tradition into our family life right after dinner. I write down the scriptures for that day (which I have prepared in the download below) and place them in 1-3 easter eggs with a treat. We hide these somewhere in the house, and then my kids try to find the eggs. Once they find the eggs, we open them up and let the kids munch on the treat (or use them as incentives to listen and participate!) We read the scriptures, sing a song, do the activity, and hang up the picture for that day.
On certain days there are special activities that we incorporate (included in the packet below). For example, on Palm Sunday we act out the Triumphal Entry, and on Thursday, we eat a Jerusalem Dinner and talk about the Last Supper. On Saturday (the day Christ’s body is in the tomb) we do the devotional by candlelight, and on Easter Sunday we do a sunrise devotional.
We have tried to approach this from a family-friendly angle; something that you can do in about 15 minutes each evening (or more, but that’s about as long as my kid’s attention span right now!). And yet it is something that leaves an impression on their young minds, and allows the spirit to be present in a powerful way as we talk about the details of Christ’s last week on earth.
Especially key for our family is the large poster; having a print to hang up for each day helps them see the completion of the week, and visually remember what happens each day. It helps them to see the progression of events, and they look forward to being able to put in the picture at the end of each day. I love having a beautiful display that honors the Savior and these unique, and powerful events that unfold on Easter Week. (Pictures of Christ are included in the download, as well as instructions of how to print the poster out large.)
THE BLESSINGS OF TRADITION
I have found this tradition to be one of the sweetest of our family. Not only has Easter become a sacred time in our home, but my children know and understand the events of Christ’s life, and their importance. Last year my daughter (age 6) told us that Easter was her favorite time of the year and her favorite Holiday. I know there is so much that keeps us busy, but I have found that this is one time of the year where any and all efforts to reflect on Christ’s life are magnified and worth it!
“Every attempt to reflect upon the Atonement, to study it, to embrace it, to express appreciation for it, however small or feeble it may be, will kindle the fires of faith and work its miracle towards a more Christlike life. It is an inescapable consequence of so doing. We become like those things we habitually love and admire. And thus, as we study Christ’s life and live His teachings, we become more like Him.” (Tad R. Callister)
For more details on the Easter Week Packet or for links, just keep scrolling down!
EVENT: TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
Jesus Christ rides into the city of Jerusalem on a donkey, and is greeted by multitudes of people shouting Hosanna, waving palms, and laying down clothing and branches for Christ to walk on. They recognize Him as their King. “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:9)
Triumphal entry: Mark 11:1–11
Prophecy of triumphal entry: Zechariah 9:9
Hosannah (Children’s Songbook 66)
Make this a special celebration, as it is the first event to kick off Easter Week. Prepare by cutting out palm leaves out of craft paper, or cut down outside leaves. Read the story as a family, and then act out Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Hang up (or draw) a picture of the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday’s picture frame.
EVENT: CLEANSING THE TEMPLE, HEALING BLIND & LAME
Three years prior to this Easter Week, Jesus Christ had cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and called it “my Father’s house.” On this day of Easter Week, Christ once again clears the temple of money changers but, in his role as Messiah, claims the temple as “my house.” He teaches in the temple, and the blind and lame come to Him, and He heals them.
Christs cleanses temple, heals blind: Matthew 21: 12–17
Christs cleanses temple, teaches: Luke 19:45–48
Come Follow Me (Hymn 116)
Watch the bible video “Jesus Cleanses the Temple.” Talk about why Jesus was upset. Why is it important to be respectful of sacred things? Hang up (or draw) pictures of Jesus cleansing temple, and healing blind.
EVENT: TEACHINGS & PARABLES
Jesus was the master teacher. On this day, He teaches the awaiting crowds at the temple and the mount of Olives through sermons and parables. His powerful teachings on this day include the parable of the Ten Virgins, the Widow’s Mite, and the Greatest Commandment, love one another. He also emphasizes the importance of serving others: “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
The Greatest Commandment: Matthew 22:35–40
Ye Have Done It Unto Me: Matthew 25: 31–46
The Widow’s Mite: Mark 12:41–44
The Parable Of The Talents: Matthew 25: 14-30
The Parable Of 10 Virgins: Matthew 25:1–13
Love One Another (Hymn 308)
Choose one of the parables to act out as a family. Discuss some of the teachings of Christ and why Love and Service is such an important lesson for all. Hang up (or draw) a picture of Christ teaching.
EVENT:HEALINGS, MIRACLES, & BETRAYAL*
*The events of this day are unclear. Some believe this is the day Judas set in motion his plans to betray Christ. Others believe Christ continued to teach, heal, and perform miracles. Instead of focusing on where Jesus was, we can focus on what He taught and did during his ministry. Prayerfully decide which stories and events from Jesus Christ’s life you will focus on. Below you will find some suggested scriptures.
Jesus Raises the Daughter of Jairus: Mark 5:22–24, 35–43
Jesus heals woman with issue of blood: Mark 5:25–3
Jesus calms the tempest: Mark 4:37–40
Judas betrays Jesus: Matt 26:14–164
Our Saviors Love (Hymn 113)
Watch the Video of Christ healing the Daughter of Jairus, Christ healing the woman with the issue of blood, or of Christ calming the tempest, Discuss why we must have faith in the Savior, and why each of these miracles happened because of faith. Hang up (or draw) a picture of one of Christ’s miracles.
EVENTS: LAST SUPPER, ATONEMENT IN GETHSEMANE
On this day, Jesus sat with his apostles for the Last Supper, or Passover, the feast of unleavened bread. In this setting Jesus washed his apostles feet, instituted the sacrament, and taught his final and perhaps most personal sermon. After the Passover, Jesus went with his apostles to Gethsemane where he suffered for the sins of the world. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the crowning moment of the universe, the single most important event of all time; “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 4–5) Finally betrayed, Jesus is taken from the garden and spends the night in illegal trials.
The Last Supper: John 13:1–35
Gethsemane: Luke 22: 39–46, Matthew 26:36–45
Jesus is betrayed and taken: Matthew 26:45–57
How Great Thou Art (Hymn 86)
Eat a Jerusalem Dinner, and turn out the lights and eat on the floor by candlelight. Read the scriptural accounts of the last supper, and Christ’s atonement. Watch the video of Christ in Gethsemane. Talk about the importance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ for all mankind. Hang up (or draw) a picture of the Last Supper, and a picture of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane.
EVENTS: CRUCIFIXION AND BURIAL
After a night of no sleep, Jesus was called before Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, and then Pilate again. He was condemned to and suffered scourging at the hands of Roman soldiers. Then, with a the cross on his back, began the march towards Golgotha where he would be crucified. After hours of agony and after having completed the work the Father had given him, Jesus died as the sky darkened and the earth shook in mourning. After his death, Jesus’ body is prepared by his followers to be placed in the tomb. (More info on Good Friday)
Jesus is held in illegal trials: Matthew 26:57–68
Jesus is condemned by Pilate: Matthew 27:1–2, 11–25
Jesus is scourged and crucified: Matthew 26: 27–54
Jesus is laid in a tomb: Matthew 27:57–60
I Stand All Amazed (Hymn 193)
There is a Green Hill Far Away (Hymn 194)
Read scriptural accounts, sing songs, and watch the video of Christ’s crucifixion. Share testimonies of how Christ’s atonement and suffering blesses you and your family’s life. Hang up (or draw) a picture of Christ on the Cross, and being prepared for burial.
EVENTS: THE SPIRIT WORLD & THE AMERICAS
Although the gospel writers in the Bible do not detail this day, Peter wrote that as Jesus’ body lay in the tomb his spirit visited “the spirits in prison” to preach to them. Meanwhile in the Americas, scriptural accounts teach that a great storm shook the earth, and that darkness descended in the land, lasting for three days as a sign of Christ’s death.
Guards are placed in front of tomb: Matthew 27:62–66
The Americas have storm & darkness: 3 Nephi 8:6, 19–23
Christ speaks to the Americas: 9: 13–21, 10:9–11
The Spirit World: 1 Peter 3:18–19
I Need thee Every Hour (Hymn 98)
Nearer my God to Thee (Hymn 100)
Lead Kingly Light (Hymn 97)
Be still my Soul (Hymn 124)
Turn off all of the lights and light some candles. Read the scriptural accounts of this time. Discuss how Christ is the light of the world and brings us out of the darkness. Sing songs about Christ.
EVENTS: THE RESURRECTION
Early in the morning some of Christ’s followers go to the tomb to lovingly attend to His body. They find the tomb open and an angelic message that Jesus has risen from the dead. Peter and John race to the empty tomb to confirm the news. Shortly thereafter the resurrected Lord appears to Mary, other faithful women, disciples on their way to Emmaus, and finally to his awaiting apostles. Jesus Christ overcame death and was resurrected, and because He lives, all of us will live again.
Angels announce resurrection: Luke 24: 1–12
Mary Magdalene sees Christ: John 20:11–17
Christ appears to many: Matthew 28: 1–10, 16–20
He is Risen (Hymn 199)
Beautiful Savior (Children’s Songbook 62)
I know that my Redeemer Lives (Hymn 136)
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (Hymn 200)
Have a sunrise talk or morning devotional. Watch the video of Christ’s Resurrection . Reflect on the joy that Christ’s atonement and resurrection gives us. Hang up (or draw) a picture of the Resurrected Christ.
RESOURCES AND THANKS
For a more detailed guide for the Holy Week this blog is the best.