Tuesday, May 27, 2014

holy week

We have tried to establish some traditions for Holy Week over the past few years.  I always felt like we weren't doing enough, but I now realize that establishing traditions takes some time and you can't force them.  If I tried to do all the cute crafts and things I see online, then my head would explode.  Even going to every single service at church can wear out the kids so I think it is good to find a balance.  Now that my kids are old enough to participate more and understand the story more, I feel like we can do a lot more.  I have been pretty good about introducing just one new thing a year.  Last year we started doing a Resurrection Garden.  I have never really planned it.  I more just gather things we already have and make do.  It might be prettier if I planned it enough in advance to have it actually growing, but the way I do it is minimal effort and also is free (and I like free). I just dug up something that was growing in our yard already with a giant shovel and transported it to a pot.  I knew it was just a weed, but it had little flowers on it and I thought it would work.  After transporting it to the pot, it looked much more like a bunch of weeds.
We went with it anyway (until it started dying, but more on that later). Fortunately, we have a planter that works pretty well (it is actually a fountain left by the people who used to live in our house).  I planted a few flowers in the bottom planter because I love having flowers around at Easter and the rest of our yard is lacking in them.  They died about a week after Easter from our lack of watering them regularly, but they served their purpose so we weren't too sad.
The new tradition we started this year is to have a Holy Week Calendar.
We made it from a large assortment of felt we already had on hand and put Velcro on the backs of each of the pieces.  There was a palm leaf for Palm Sunday and then three dots to indicate the next three days.  There was a chalice and host for Holy Thursday, a cross for Good Friday, a tomb and stone for Holy Saturday, and a sun for Easter.  Jimmy was a great helper on this and was so excited that I let him use my fabric scissors for the first time.  The boys took turns putting them up each morning during the week and I think it really helped them visualize the importance of each different day.

 I found this Last Supper Craft on Catholic Icing and Jimmy was excited to get working on it as soon as he woke up that morning.
He was almost done with it before our friends came over to try it out with us.
We also decided to revisit Resurrection Rolls after lasts year's relative failure (for more details see this post).
The kids loved dipping their marshmallows (yes, those represent Jesus) in the cinnamon butter (spiced oils) and wrapping them in cresent rolls (linens).
After we put them in the tomb (aka: the oven) the kids all pretended to be Jesus' disciples who have to wait until the third day for him to rise.  First they all pretend to sleep and then Jimmy does a roaster crow to wake everyone and they all go to check on the rolls. The tomb was still closed the first time so we sent them back to bed again and told them to check back the next day.
Getting these two boys to actually pretend to sleep was difficult...
The girls got a little more into it, but Nora could be distracting at times.
When the rolls came out the marshmallows were gone and they looked like little empty tombs.
(Thank goodness they worked this time!)
They were delicious and the kids loved the whole thing.
Later that night when Zach came home we read some scripture passages and took turns washing each other's feet as Christ did for his apostles.  Zach washed mine, I did Jimmy's, Jimmy did Gus', and Gus' did Nora's.
We also decided to do our first ever Seder Meal in remembrance of the Last Supper.  We made our first lamb roast and I made unleavened bread for the first time.  We had wine and grape juice as well as spinach (as our bitter herbs) and a few other traditional items.
We read some pieces of scripture to remind us of the reason for each item we ate, but we will probably have it a little more organized by next year.
The boys thought it was really exciting and seemed to understand some of the importance of it.  
It was a lot of work, but hopefully be can keep the tradition going in some form.

We went to a live Stations of the Cross performance at Jimmy's school and then during the time that Jesus was on the cross we headed over to Mount Claret Retreat Center where they have a Stations Walk through the desert.  The day was appropriately stormy and yet lovely. 
We remembered to put Jesus (a homemade Playmobil version wrapped in cloth) into his tomb and cover it with a rock.
As you may notice the Resurrection Garden needed to be resurrected since the weedy grass I first tried ended up dying.  I wanted it to look nice for Easter so I replaced it with some other grass from our yard.

Saturday is when we usually dye our eggs and start decorating for Easter Sunday
The boys always have fun with this, but Jimmy started getting a fever that morning. I thought we were going to end up with a sick Easter just like we did with Christmas, but luckily it was short lived and we all missed that bullet.  We post-poned the dying a little while and all was happy in the end.
We also try to do our Resurrection Eggs on this night, which is another fun tradition to teach the kids the story of Christ.   However, in the future I will definitely not wait until they are exhausted and cranky.
All that preparation really made us ready for the biggest celebration of all the next day. More to come on that.


  1. Mary, you're amazing. I love that you did a Seder meal. I've been wanting to do that every year but I always forget somehow when the time rolls around. I'm definitely going to put that on my list to do for next year.

  2. Shucks Liss. I guess I did pretty good this year and should take the pat on the back, but I am not as awesome as I may seem sometimes. Of course, I don't usually take pictures of all the whining and crying that happens at my house because it doesn't photograph well. The sedar meal was great, but I sure was exhausted after that day. A lot of the credit for it goes to Zach because he was the one that really wanted to do it and helped a lot. We prepped the lamb the night before otherwise it wouldn't have happened.