Can you believe Lent is almost over? Holy Week is quickly approaching. Holy Week provides a lot of opportunities to make traditions and reflect on the life and cruxifiction of Christ together as a family. Having a Holy Week that is meaningful and not stressful requires a little bit of preparation, but it doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming! And I’m going to type this, because I need to hear it more than anyone…less is more! Be intentional about what you plan, keeping in mind what your family’s commitments and schedule look like.
We wrap up the last Sunday of Lent with Palm Sunday, and then lent ends on Holy Thursday as the Triduum begins. The triduum includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Easter begins at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. You can also observe Spy Wednesday, the day that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins.
The past couple of years we have chosen not to attend services for all days of the Triduum. I know lots of families do, which is awesome, but I’ve found that during this season of life a mix of at home learning and observances and attending services/Mass at church works well for us. Last year, of course, we were all at home, for all of it. It was a rare opportunity to lean into our domestic churches. This year we are thankful to get to worship in person!
Here are some ideas for Holy Week activities and traditions that you might find meaningful in your home. Some are specific to the days in Holy Week, while others would fit in where ever you would like. I’m including a printable that you can use to plan your week—activities, special menus, to-dos. Holy Week always goes a little smoother when I have a game plan going into the week. Actually, every week goes smoother with a game plan, huh? I really try to make Holy Week feel different in our home, which I know can be a little tricky with work, school and activities still going full swing for most people.
Resurrection garden– This is an activity that we started doing a couple of years ago. I enjoy how it changes and helps us tell the Easter story throughout Holy Week. We use a terra cotta base and a small terra cotta pot to create our garden, but you can use a variety of things! On Palm Sunday we make our resurrection garden by covering the pot in dirt and adding rocks, moss and plants (mostly dandelions) we find around the yard. It looks really pretty and full of life at first, but by Good Friday all the plants we added have died and it looks pretty sad, which is fitting! We remove the dead plants and add three crosses made from twigs, and roll a rock over the tomb. Then on Easter morning I roll the rock away and add some pretty fake flowers to make it beautiful again! Here is a post about making a resurrection garden using grass seed…if I get my act together I might try to grow grass for next year. For now I just use moss.
Resurrection eggs– Resurrection eggs are another hands on way to tell the Easter Story. It is a set of 12 plastic eggs that each contain a symbol and a bible verse to pertaining to a part of the Easter Story. You can space them out and open a few each night leading up to Easter or you could do them all as a one time activity…maybe hide them, put them in order and open them. Here is a post about making your own set of eggs.
Paschal candle– This is a new activity for me. I have always seen the Paschal Candle at church, but it never occurred to me that we could make one for our home. I think it will be a great reminder of the Easter season. Here is a post with a free download and a tutorial for making one using tissue paper and wax paper, or this post shows how to make one using your free hand painting skills.
Egg Your Friends– This is a fun tradition that we enjoy. My kids love surprising their friends by hiding the eggs, and trying not to get caught. You simply fill 11 eggs with some kind of treat- candy, temporary tattoos, stickers…whatever you wish. Make sure you leave one egg empty as a reminder of the empty tomb. Then you hide them in your friend’s yard and leave the note on the door. When you do this depends on personal preference. I think it is fun to do on Easter Monday to keep the celebration going! (Plus if your sneaky you can reuse some of your kid’s Easter candy!)
Spy Wednesday– I only recently learned about Spy Wednesday from Catholic All Year. It is the day that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The last couple of years we have done a silver coin hunt. I simply scrounge up 30 silver coins (I do a mix of whatever I can find) then I hide them for my kids to find. After the hunt is over, we can discuss greed, Judas and the role he played in Jesus’ cruxifixtion. You could also serve silver dollar pancakes for dinner.
Holy Thursday– I really love the liturgy on Holy Thursday, but the last few years we have opted to do a family prayer service and washing. We make unleavened bread, read scripture about the last supper and wash each other’s feet. It’s hands on and my children really enjoy being part of the action. As they get older I’m sure we will go back to attending Holy Thursday Mass, but for now this feels more fruitful. This year I hope to add in adoration, and spending some time praying with Jesus. We will probably opt to do it during the day and not interrupt bedtime!
Good Friday-We will plan to attend the Good Friday service this year, which will be our main activity for the day. Another great option for Good Friday is to pray the stations of the cross at 3:00 or to have some time of silence at 3:00. It is tricky to keep 3 rowdy boys somber for a day, but I will do my best! There is also a tradition of serving hot cross buns on Good Friday, that you can read about here.
Holy Saturday– We don’t have any traditions for Holy Saturday. Since our kids are still young we do not usually attend the Easter Vigil. I would love to hear about any meaningful traditions that your family may have! We usually spend the day preparing for Easter morning.
Easter Sunday– Of Course this is a day of great celebration, and you probably have some traditions you already enjoy! We unbury the Alleluia after Mass and enjoy an egg hunt and time with family!
Here are some prints that you might appreciate for Holy Week:
I pray you have a fruitful Holy Week and a joyous Easter season in your home!