Easter is so great a mystery that you can’t keep it in only one Sunday. It keeps on going for one, two, three, four, five, six [more] weeks.
Jerome Berryman; The Complete Guide to Godly Play (vol. 2 p. 30)
Yes. Seven weeks of feasting. Or should I say “Seven weeks of feasting?!?!?!”
Twelve days for a Christmas feast, that is imaginable. But, keeping Easter for seven weeks can feel a bit daunting. Christ is Risen and it changes absolutely everything about how we live and who we are as God’s people.
How do we celebrate something so large and encompassing? I think that when we feel the depth of this struggle then we are beginning (and I do mean beginning) to understand the magnitude of what Easter is and does. I’d love to share some ideas that have helped our family intentionally keep Eastertide, but the reality is that these things are only helpful when we practice them in light of the truth that He is Risen and that Christ’s death and resurrection change everything.
Fast well, Feast well.
I mentioned the same idea in Advent; but if Lent is full of cookies, easter candy and excitement, then keeping Easter might feel a bit harder. Can you put off sharing any Easter candy until resurrection day? Mini eggs always cause me the greatest temptation (and we may have shared a bag on the rose Sunday of Lent), but it is so delightful to have waited once you hit Easter.
The idea of the fast leading to feasting is something I try to think about when we pick a family Lenten discipline. If you have given up outings for treats like doughnuts and ice cream in Lent, then during Easter be intentional about adding these things in with an “Alleluia” as you enjoy them!
Did you give up meat in Lent? Can everyone in your family then pick their favorite carnivorous meal to make in Eastertide? Even if you didn’t have a family fast, think about what ways you can share joy together. A plastic easter egg with a couple jelly beans or chocolate chips often finds its way into my boys’ (usually dessert free) school lunches all through Eastertide. And for our family, the fact that Easter is at the beginning of spring time means hiking, planting and playing outdoors is something we can delight in together. We marvel over new life and how that is God’s plan for his world.
Wait till Eastertide to celebrate with others (and keep going after resurrection Sunday!).
This one is trickier because as we live in community, others’ schedules and preferences are always important to consider. I do try to have our egg hunts and family dinners on or after resurrection Sunday. If you know that you have Easter brunch with friends on resurrection Sunday and the grandparents will be there for an Easter meal a week or two later, it really does help to make it feel like Easter isn’t over in a day. There is more community celebration to come!
Add Easter decor that you can enjoy for seven weeks.
You may not want to leave your plastic Easter Bunny up in the front yard till Pentecost because of the strange looks your neighbors might start giving you in May. But, you can bring out decorations on Holy Saturday and keep them out through the season.
Are there garlands of bells or flowers that can stay up for seven weeks? Can you keep the easter bunny portrait on the fridge or a sweet basket of blown eggs out through Eastertide? The Easter Bunny decorates our seasonal branches with small wooden easter ornaments each year and they stay decorated through Pentecost. Can you keep freshly cut flowers on the table?
One of the things I enjoy the most is getting out our seven easter plates and sharing snacks, small meals and desserts on them through Eastertide. It is simple, but when I reach for a plate or as my boys eat a snack we are reminded that we are in Eastertide.
Use words from the liturgy.
“He is Risen” is a phrase we try to use all through Eastertide. And then others respond “He is Risen indeed.” The joy this simple call and response gives my children is rather remarkable. Even my middle schooler can get into it. And of course we enjoy the Alleluia, which was so absent through Lent. We try to shout Alleluia out loud through Eastertide at church. Cards with “Alleluia” in shiny letters are set in our dining room and often ‘Alleluia’ is the word on my chalkboard through Eastertide.
Keep telling the story.
Because I still have very young children, we talk and read about Jesus’ death and resurrection often through Lent. They need to be reminded of the great story we are getting ready for, so our sacred Easter books are well read by the time Eastertide comes. But the spring books, the Easter bunny books and other great redemptive stories are pulled out in Eastertide. We surround ourselves with joy filled and springtime stories.
Share the biblical story after the resurrection. The church year is there to help you!
The thing that drew me most strongly to celebrating the church year with our family is the fact that we get to inhabit the gospel every year between Advent and Pentecost.
Most church going children are given the story of the death and resurrection of Christ, but do they know what happens next? It is rather an exciting story. Jesus is walking through walls and appearing to friends on a road who don’t recognize him and then they do. I have no memory of hearing the story of the ascension as a child, but what an incredibly important story! Jesus is taken into heaven and he promises a helper to his disciples.
And then, that Holy Spirit comes, which is a wonderful story that reminds us that this great story we are hearing is our own story. The Holy Spirit came for us. We are part of this fabulous story. And that is worth celebrating!
We try to host a dinner every Pentecost with red banners, red hot bbq, red velvet cake and sparklers. Knowing that an Ascension Day picnic and a Pentecost party await at the end of Eastertide keeps the season going for me every year as we inhabit the story.
There are so many ways to keep Eastertide, yet finding the simple moments to remind one another that Jesus’ saving work changes everything and is the thing most worth celebrating in the world should always be kept at the heart of anything we do to celebrate Easter.
Bring on the Alleluia and the Mini Eggs as they help us celebrate the greatest mystery imaginable!
How does your family celebrate Eastertide?