By Steve and Rachelle Christensen
As with most of the holidays, the commercialism of Easter tends to overrun the real meaning of this celebration of our Savior. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate with our kids, but it does mean that we need to be mindful and creative to be certain the sacred aspects of the holiday are not forgotten.
Easter is to celebrate the atonement and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. If you ask most kids what Easter is about, you may hear an answer about the Easter bunny, coloring eggs, or candy. So how can we celebrate all those fun things and remember the Savior too?
We can start in advance by preparing Family Home Evening lessons on the crucifixion and resurrection. Read from the scriptures and give an overview of the Savior’s life and the events leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection. You could also include lessons on The Last Supper, the importance of the Atonement in our daily lives, and what Christ’s resurrection means for each of us individually.
Talking about how Jesus might have felt as well as his friends and his mother may help children relate with this most important event. When they realize the difficulties that Christ undertook to accomplish the Atonement, they are better able to recognize the importance of the event.
After you hold your Family Home Evening lessons, keep talking about the significance of the Atonement in the weeks and day leading up to Easter.
Here are a few scriptures to help with your study: Matthew chapters 26-28, Mark chapters 14-16, and Luke chapters 23-24.
Another activity that can be used as a Family Home Evening lesson or as an Easter activity is “Filling the Empty Tomb”. Get a large plastic egg for each family member and several sheets of stationery. Give each person a piece of paper and encourage them to write a letter to put in the empty tomb. They can write down thoughts and goals of how to become more like the Savior in the coming year. Talk about how we can “fill the empty tomb” by serving others, studying scriptures, praying, and remembering daily our commitment to be more Christlike.
You could display the eggs in a basket or allow family members to keep their “empty tomb” on their dresser. When Christmas time approaches, open the eggs and talk about the improvements you’ve made and how you can continue to work on your commitment to become more like the Savior.
In our family, we have an Easter egg hunt on Saturday. This works well for us because we have a chance to get together with extended family and celebrate one side of Easter on Saturday, then we prepare to focus on the real meaning of Easter on Sunday.
Some families opt to have the Easter Bunny visit their homes Saturday morning as well. It doesn’t have to be confusing for kids, just tell them you were able to schedule with the Easter Bunny so that on Sunday you could focus on the real meaning of Easter.
On either day you celebrate, it’s a wonderful idea if your children receive gifts for Easter to have the Easter Bunny include gifts that are central to Christ. Gifts such as bookmarks with The Articles of Faith, small pictures of Christ, scripture marking pencils, or a book on a topic relating to church principles are a few examples.
Talk about Christ’s resurrected body and instead of eating tons of candy, encourage kids to choose a healthy breakfast to celebrate Easter. We enjoy fresh fruit bowls with eggs and toast, waffles, or oatmeal with diced apples. Discuss how taking care of our bodies signifies respect for our Heavenly Father’s creation and anticipation of the gift of the resurrection.
The most important aspect it to make sure your family understands the meaning of this beautiful Easter holiday. The Atonement is something that we can use each day throughout our lives. Our Savior has given us a priceless gift and He paid the ultimate price in order to give it to each of us. In order to fully receive this gift, we must grasp how it can affect our lives.