How to Celebrate the Easter Season as a Family
by Lindsay Schlegel
The liturgical year is full of treasures, not the least of which is the fact that Easter is not simply a day, not even just an octave, but a whole fifty-day-long season.
There is always depth of meaning behind the numbers used in the liturgical calendar. Older kids can enjoy learning about this symbolism, as a way of cracking a centuries-long code!
Many people—even those who are aren’t Catholic—know that Lent is a season that lasts forty days. The number forty draws on other times of trial and testing that we read about in Scripture; for example, the years the Israelites spent in the desert and the number of days Jesus fasted in the Judean desert.
There are also forty days from Easter to Ascension Thursday, but the Easter season continues beyond that, to Pentecost Sunday, aka the birthday of Mother Church.
The fifty days of Easter are seven weeks plus a day, the latter of which is also understood as the “Eighth Day,” or a symbol of eternity. This season comprises about a seventh of the year, just as Sunday is a seventh of the week.
So how do we celebrate it?
Be patient. Fifty days is a long time, and it feels even longer when you start celebrating too soon. Save the Easter egg hunts, candy, and Easter crafts until Easter Sunday or after. Keep decorations spare in your home until you participate in Mass on Easter Sunday (or the vigil on Holy Saturday). Then, go all out! Paper plates, streamers, and balloons don’t have to be used only for birthdays. Easter is the celebration of all celebrations! By Monday, most retailers will already be on to the next holiday, but your domestic church is under no obligation to follow that trend.
Be colorful. Easter is a season of joy and hope. Find ways to make this visible in your home. Keep fresh flowers on your counter or table throughout the season. Have your children make vibrant artwork on paper or inexpensive canvases. Use fun napkins at the table to make mealtime more festive. Put a garden flag outside your home to share the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection.
Be prayerful. Prayer is one of the three calls of the Lenten season, but it’s also a practice we ought to engage in all year long. Play music that sings “Alleluia” (make your own playlist or search for one on your preferred streaming app). Learn the Regina Caeli, which is said in place of the Angelus during the Easter season. Try to get to Mass more than once a week. Ask your children to notice any differences in the liturgy, especially during the first week after Easter Sunday, the Easter Octave. These days are all considered one day in the Church, and they are celebrated as such.
Be sweet. During Lent in our home, we don’t have midweek dessert. We save treats for Saturday and Sunday. The Easter Octave is a week’s worth of Sundays, so we have dessert each night. The kids look forward to this (obviously!) and it helps them appreciate the difference between fasting and feasting.
Be fancy. Easter is a great time of year to revamp your family’s Sunday bests. Girls might get a new dress or a new hairband, which will be reserved for Sundays. Boys might get a new polo shirt or tie in spring-time colors. Another option is a faith-themed face mask for Mass. Encourage your children to wear their Easter clothes for each Sunday of Easter—and don’t forget to snap a photo after Mass one of those weeks!
Alleluia! He is Risen! By marking this time as separate from the rest of the year, we show our children the beauty of the Faith and make real the love and blessings of Christ as our Lord. Happy Easter!