I love my Ballerina Bunny. A gift from my dad after a long business trip, I carried this bunny everywhere I went for the majority of my childhood. We played together, slept together, and I wore her out. One Christmas, Santa picked up Ballerina Bunny to take her back to his workshop for repairs. He left a note indicating that the Easter Bunny would bring her back in a few months—good as new. And it was so.
Every few years, the Santa and Easter Bunny exchange happened. As a little girl, it was holiday magic. It was also a bit of a problem as I became older. My schoolmates assured me that neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny were real. But I believed I had proof in Ballerina Bunny. Finally, in fifth grade, my parents told me the truth. To say that I was shocked? An understatement. So many of my beloved Easter traditions were wrapped up in this intricate tale of two bunnies and a jolly man in a red suit. I honestly fell out of love with the holiday for a while.
Fast forward to college when my friend invited me to a Good Friday service at church. I wasn’t sure what this might be, but it sounded fun. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a silent sanctuary where everyone was wearing black. Why such a solemn mood? What was so special about this day? Somewhere along the way, I missed the true meaning of Easter.
Easter is once again my favorite holiday, but for different reasons from my childhood. I still love painting Easter eggs and picking out baskets full of goodies for my family. I cannot wait to host an annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt for my son and his friends—similar to the hunt my parents hosted in my youth. I’m already planning a delicious Easter meal, and I’ve got a dapper outfit picked out for my son—complete with a bowtie and suspenders.
As fun as these activities are, what most excites me now are the annual traditions at my church. On Good Friday, I’ll attend the silent service—a remembrance of Jesus’ death on a cross. It’s sobering, but it sets the scene for the glorious celebration of life on Sunday. Easter morning is my favorite time of the year. I love the joyful music (particularly the song, “Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!”). I love hearing the story of God (who so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son to save us). There is clapping and laughter and jubilation. Our family believes this to be the true meaning of Easter.
As a new mom, I have the opportunity to shape the way that my family celebrates holidays. With Easter, I plan to incorporate many of the activities that I enjoyed as a child. I’m also excited to create fun, age appropriate traditions that teach my son about our faith. I asked some friends who have children for ideas, and here’s what we came up with:
- To celebrate Palm Sunday, pick up palm branches and wave them while shouting: “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” and “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
- Plant an Easter Lily in remembrance of a loved one who has passed away, and explain the excitement of reuniting with this loved one in heaven.
- Watch VeggieTales‘ “Twas the Night Before Easter” and “An Easter Carol.”
- Along with chocolatey goodness, include printed Bible verses in Easter eggs.
- Sing Easter hymns as a family.
- Read stories about Holy Week from a children’s Bible.
- Encourage your child to invite a friend to church on Easter morning.
Above all? Make Easter fun!