People start gearing up for Christmas six weeks in advance but Easter often catches families by surprise. There are pages of Advent devotionals available online but just a handful of family devotionals for Holy Week or Easter Week. So why is Easter so neglected? Shouldn’t we celebrate Easter with the same gusto we do Christmas?
Part of the challenge is that Christmas is always December 25th but the date of Easter changes every year (the first Sunday following the full moon on or just after the Spring equinox). This means it can sometimes sneak up on us. (In case you are wondering when Easter is in 2022, it is April 17.th)
A Reason to Celebrate
Perhaps another reason we remember Christmas more readily is the gift giving traditions that we have grown up around that holiday. Sure, we have some special Easter traditions like making colored eggs or baking special breads, but that just doesn’t hold our attention like watching someone open the special gift you purchased for them. My parents used to buy me a chocolate bunny each year covered in foil. It looked great but the first bite revealed one fatal flaw. It was a hollow tradition—literally! And the amount of paraffin they added to the chocolate to get it to remain tall and stiff made it taste like you were eating a candle.
Hardly the proper celebration considering that Easter is arguably the greatest Christian celebration of all. Or at least we should put it on par with Christmas. The apostle Paul said, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:12–14). Without the gift of Easter, our faith has no foundation.
Start a New Tradition
What can you do to celebrate Easter in a way that will be more meaningful than buying a huge hollow chocolate rabbit? Here are a few suggestions.
- Make an Easter countdown calendar on a small white board or chalkboard. Talk to your family about why you are counting down the days.
- Read the gospel of Mark in the weeks between Christmas and Easter. There are sixteen chapters in the Gospel of Mark, which ends with the Easter story in chapter 16. There can be 12–16 weeks between Christmas and Easter, so if the time is shorter you can double up a couple of weeks or simply start further in the book. If you read one or two sections of a chapter as a family each day at dinner, you can get through the whole gospel with no trouble at all. Reading along toward Easter is a great way to anticipate the resurrection. If you’re getting a late start, count back the weeks from Easter and begin that many chapters back from the sixteenth chapter of Mark.
- Read the resurrection story on Easter morning as a family or after you finish your Easter dinner. You’ll find the account in Matthew 28:1–10, Mark 16:1–8, Luke 24:1–10, and John 20:1–18.
- Take you family through a Holy Week/Easter Week devotional. Using a devotional that helps your family to draw out insight from the Scriptures will help you to apply what you are reading and synthesize the various gospel accounts.
Whichever celebration of Easter you choose for your family, be sure to not allow “nothing” to become your Easter tradition and let the Bible take priority over the hollow traditions our culture offers.
Darkest Night Brightest Day
Start a new Easter season tradition with your family by reading this “upside-down” book from Marty Machowski. The first side, Darkest Night, has seven stories that recount the events of Passion week ending with Christ’s crucifixion and burial. Flip the book over and continue by reading Brightest Day with seven more stories that progress from Christ’s resurrection through Pentecost.