How do your center your Easter traditions around Christ?
One of our Sabbath Day traditions is to have a “Sunday Scent” (like the ancient temple in the Holy Room) and we light a candle like the Menorah. Each Sabbath morning we have a family prayer and Mom lights the candle to be lit all day. We put a pot of water with cinnamon sticks, oranges and cloves on the stove to simmer all day. During the Holy Week, we do this tradition each day all week long in addition to our other Resurrection Celebration traditions.
This year we added a NEW TRADITION to our Easter Week – A Resurrection Basket! We begin on Palm Sunday and add an item(s) each day. We place the basket on the center of the table, a place we can see it throughout the day.
Sunday – Palm Sunday
We read Matthew 21:1-11 and discuss the Triumphant Entry and its significance. We often talk about how it relates to the Passover Celebration and the day they “chose” a lamb to be sacrificed. When the children were younger we would act out the event with green towels for palm leaves and an older child being a colt and a younger child riding on him as Jesus.
Resurrection Basket: Make a basket out of palm leaves. Or obtain a woven basket to represent a palm leaf basket to start collecting Easter symbols in throughout the week.
Monday – cleansing the Temple
We read Matthew 21:12–15; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46 about Jesus cleaning out the worldly merchandise from “His” house (the temple). We discuss the importance of temples and they are God’s way of visiting his children.
Resurrection Basket: add white Easter lilies (or other spring flowers) next to your basket to remind you of the importance, beauty, and purity of the temple.
Tuesday – nothing is recorded
Before Passover, a young, innocent lamb is chosen to be the sacrificial offering for the Passover meal. It is brought into the home and treated as one of the family. The lamb was not to be cut up, fried, but roasted only. A symbol of wholeness – completely dedicating ourselves to the Lord. They also prepare for this celebration by thoroughly cleaning their homes. They rid their lives of yeast for a week. Yeast symbolizes the influence of evil that spreads fast. Water is used to clean their homes and their bodies and the lamb.
Resurrection Basket: choose a small trinket or stuffed animal to represent your pascal lamb and add it to your basket. Clean your home (or at least part), bath, and choose your best clothes to wear for the Resurrection Celebration in remembrance of being clean, justified, before the coming of the Savior. We found very tiny jars and put water in one of them and added it to our basket.
Wednesday – Christ told several parables
We read the parable of the ten virgins, found in Matthew 25:1-13. The Lord, speaking to us said, “Be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom” (D&C 33:17). This parable illustrates how we are to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming by “[receiving] the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived” (D&C 45:57). Coins seem to be a common theme during this Resurrection Week. Jesus saw the widow giving two mites, everything she had to the temple fund. He paid taxes to Ceasar by finding a coin within a fish. Earlier in the week, he turned over the money changers table with coins. And Judah betrays him and receives 30 pieces of silver. He also had a woman anoint him with oil and spices in preparation for his death.
Resurrection Basket: We added an oil lamp and a small jar of oil to remind us to be spiritually prepared for the Second Coming. In one of these small jars, we added spices to remind us to prepare for our second birth. We collected coins from around the world and talked about whose they belonged to, man, country, or God.
Thursday – The First day of Unleavened Bread – Passover
We read the account of the Last Supper found in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:7-13. The Savior blessed the broken bread and cup of wine and gave it to the Apostles, changing the Passover over to the Sacrament. Then Jesus washed their feet with water (John 13). Cups seems to be another common symbol during this week. During the Passover meal, we drink four cups, a cup is filled for Elijah, and after Passover in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus asked, “Father, if it be they will remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”
Resurrection Basket: find or make a cup that represents the blessings of Christ’s Atonement to your family and add it to your basket. We also add matzah bread representing the absence of evil, water for cleansing, and grapes to remind us of our covenants at the sacrament altar. A tree branch was added to remind us of the grove of trees in the Garden of Gethsemane and the Sacred Grove.
Friday – Christ is tried and crucified on the cross
We read Matthew 27:1 -54, the account of the trials and the crucifixion of Jesus. We each imagine being one of the witnesses of the crucifixion. Then we go around the room discussing how, as being that person, we would feel as we watch Jesus lifted up on the cross. We compare this to Moses lifting up the serpent so all could be healed and ask, “How has Jesus healed us, as a family this year?” and “How can we more efficiently look to Him and Hear Him?”
Resurrection Basket: the scriptures are filled with references to Jesus being lifted on the cross and carrying our own cross. Each year we make a cross during our discussion. Some years it is a drawing and other years it is constructed out some material. This year we bought chocolate crosses. We also line the basket with white linen to represent the covering of Jesus’ body in the tomb and add a stone to remember the stone rolled in front of the tomb and later opened by the angels. Our little bottles come to the stage again as oil and spices are used to anoint the body of Christ in preparation for his burial.
Saturday – Jesus goes to the Spirit World
After Jesus died he went to the Spirit World to open the door between it and Spirit Prison. He made it possible for the conversion of souls, he called many to be teachers to help fulfill his mission – that all will be saved in the “Kingdom of His Father.”
Resurrection Basket: Each year we choose one or two ancestors to study. This year we chose Grandma Neil. My younger children had not known her conversion story nor that she was half German. Sharing stories about ancestors bonds them to us. We add a picture of an ancestor to our basket. Some years we do family history work and discuss ways we are linking ourselves to those beyond the veil.
Sunday – The Resurrection of Jesus, The Christ
“God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoso believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This explains two very important gifts – the Atonement and Eternal Life with God, our Father. On Resurrection Sunday we discuss both of these gifts and about the love God has for us all. Some years we talk about the results of the Resurrection and other years we marvel at the fact that Jesus was born and reborn all in the Spring time – how symbolic! This day of Passover is the holy day, call First Fruits. They would often wave the first harvest, usually of barley, to heaven, thanking God for the first firsts, symbolic of Christ being the first fruits of those that slept – those who had died before him could now be resurrected.
Resurrection Basket: The last items we add to our basket is a gift box reminding us about the gifts God has given us. We also add in an egg, green leaves, blossoms, etc. to remind us of Spring and berries or fruit to remember Christ as the first fruits of the Resurrection.
We believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the Second Coming of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, the Christ.
Have a Marvelous, Christ-Focused, Resurrection Celebration with your family!
photos by Natassja Neil