The night before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday. Historically, this is when people would eat up all of their rich food and enjoy one last night of celebration before the fasting of Lent began (this is also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Now I’ve got your attention, right?). But if plastic beads and gaudy masks are not your style, it’s also traditional to celebrate this day with a pancake supper. Here is a great chance to gather your family and friends around the table, consume gratuitous amounts of carbohydrates, and discuss the upcoming season.
As you now if you’ve been around here for a while, one of our primary visual symbols of Lent is the line of little pots on the dining table. Each person in our family plants a seed (or a few, just to be sure) in his or her own pot. As we do this, we share a habit or trait that needs to be broken in our own lives in order to make space for more Christ-like character. The little growing seeds are a daily object lesson to examine ourselves for evidence of growth.
Also on the table are seven candles, which become a kind of reverse-Advent wreath. Lent begins with all candles burning, and each week one candle is extinguished until Good Friday, when all are dark. Then, on Easter, all seven are lit again in celebration of the fact that Jesus has defeated the darkness, once and for all!
HOLY WEEK/ THE PASCHAL TRIDUUM
On our wall calendar, the last week of Lent is a black felt rectangle, to represent the solemnity and heaviness of this week. It begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. During this week, we use play-doh figures* to tell and re-tell the Easter story. We also attend a local Passion Play, which Abby then talks about for months.
The rest of the week is spent in reflection of Jesus’s last days, concluding with what is called the “Paschal Triduum,” or Thursday-Friday-Saturday preceding Easter Sunday.
Maundy Thursday is the day of the Last Supper. Many churches celebrate with a foot-washing service, observance of the Lord’s Supper, or a demonstration of the symbolism of a traditional Passover meal. If you can’t find a service to attend, these are easy to re-create on a small scale in your own home. Each of these components are powerful multisensory experiences that will reinforce the story of this significant event.
Good Friday is the day to remember the crucifixion. You might consider observing the Stations of the Cross, reading the Gospel accounts of this day, or even (with older kids) watching the Jesus movie or the Passion of the Christ.
Hold your breath on Saturday…you’ve felt the weight of sadness on Friday, and you know that Sunday is coming, but it’s not here yet!
He is Risen! Light the candles, break your fast, rejoice with your church community, and feast in every way you can think of. I want this day to be the most joyful day of the year in our house! After a Christ-centered Lent and Holy Week, I’m not even afraid to include chocolate bunnies, egg hunts, and new dresses into our celebrations–they all contribute to the festive atmosphere.
- Life and Death and Ash Wednesday (introduction to the seed-planting tradition)
- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Lent (ideas and pictures for decorations and activities)
- Keeping the Feast (or, a defense of Easter dresses)– last year’s thoughts on making Easter Sunday a day of celebration
- A collection of ideas for observance of Holy Week (links)
(other great resources)
- Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross — a collection of readings edited by Nancy Guthrie
- Pilgrim Road: A Benedictine Journey Through Lent — another interesting devotional by Albert Holtz, O.S.B.
- Intentionally Celebrating Lent & Easter as a Family — great ideas for activities to do with children
- Celebrating Lent as a Family — I am intrigued by the idea of a P-F-A basket. This mama is an Aggie, so it must be a great invention.
- Resurrection Set: (FREE PRINTABLES!) Affix these figures onto toilet paper rolls and make an Easter equivalent of a Nativity set.
- Easter Story Wreath: (FREE PRINTABLES!)
Keep Reading: Ordinary Time