I divided this initial post into two parts. You can read Part One of Preparing for Holy Week and Easter here; it includes a Holy Week family prayer booklet, music suggestions, etc. In this post, I’ll share some Easter basket plans, but mostly children’s book recommendations for Holy Week and Easter.
Preparing Easter Eggs and Easter Baskets
Last year, Bley started working on Pysanky eggs and has been introducing it to me, too. I’m looking forward to working on the eggs in the evenings after my kids’ bedtime– it’s such a calming, meditative practice. Like Holy Week housecleaning, it’s extra nice that something so practical and (potentially) refreshing can be gathered up into our devotion.
On Holy Saturday, we will dye eggs with my kids. I plan to use natural Easter egg dyes this year. This year, we’re also planning to bring an Easter/Pascha basket on Sunday morning to be blessed. This will be our first time, so it may be a year of small beginnings, but this post is very helpful in learning what may be included. We will also see if we can get a simple Easter garden together this year (it might be too much, but I have at least ordered the wheatgrass seeds.)
Holy Week and Easter Book Recommendations
This is my favorite of all our Holy Week and Easter books. It’s gloriously illustrated and simple enough for fairly young children (I think my daughter started really attending to this one around age 3). If you don’t have this one and you are looking for that one book to buy, this would be my recommendation. Wildsmith looks at the events of Holy Week through the eyes of the donkey which Jesus rode on Palm Sunday. I especially love how he illustrates the angels on every page of the book, subtly reminding us that Jesus is the ruler of all things and the angels wait upon His word.
This is a beautiful book that we will read on Palm Sunday, also from the perspective of the donkey which Jesus rode.
I just bought this one and I like it! It stands back from the Christian celebration of Holy Week and Easter and explains it within the context of traditional celebrations of new life in the spring. So, in a way, it gives this broadening vision to celebrating Easter, so that pre-Christian celebrations of the spring become swallowed up in the Spring of the Cosmos initiated by Christ’s resurrection (that’s how I take it, at least). So, for example:
“After the Christian religion spread to many lands, the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection became mingled with the joy of the spring festival. Both celebrations stood for new life. Both stood for new hope in the hearts of people And so it is not strange that many of the customs of the old spring festival became part of our celebration of Easter.”
She moves on to explain the Easter egg custom. “For ancient peoples, the symbol of new life was an egg. When the shell broke, new life came into the world.” I like how this book gives context and a better understanding of traditions (like Easter eggs and bunnies, etc.) that I used to completely dismiss.
Speaking of Easter eggs, I can’t keep from crying when I read Patricia Polacco’s Rechenka’s Eggs, about a Russian woman decorating Pysanky eggs and experiencing miracles in the mundane. It’s understated, profound — Oh, it’s lovely.
This classic book is about a Pennsylvania Dutch Easter, also with beautiful Pysanky-style eggs. It always makes me want to make an egg tree. I don’t think this will be the year I can make it happen, but perhaps next year!
We love this charming little book from Tasha Tudor. It’s a whimsical “tale” which includes the homely Easter traditions of new dresses, hot cross buns, Easter eggs and bunnies, while a little girl experiences the enchantment of spring in her dreams.
Easter Poems and Prayers for Easter is a compilation of classic Easter poems and hymns along with some newer poems from Sophie Piper. While not all of the poems are of the same caliber, I generally like this collection. I love that it includes classic poems like “The Lamb” from William Blake and “I wandered lonely as a cloud” from Wordsworth. It also brings in the hymns “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” and “Morning Has Broken.”
Some of the new poems included are quite silly, but, I think that these funny poems sprinkled in (and which are certain to make kids giggle) add to springtime jubilation. I think this would be a good little book to include in an Easter gift basket. Thank you to Paraclete Press for this copy of the book!
From Poems and Prayers for Easter by Sophie Piper
In the end, preserving the “gentle back and forth” of Holy Week (to refer back to the Mueller quote in part 1) might mean that we can’t manage much more than attending our church’s services. Nonetheless, I’ll be “guiltlessly striving” (as our priest always says) to incorporate more of these home traditions and I’m hopeful that I can. For, as Tasha Tudor concludes in her little children’s book listed above, “You can never really tell, for anything [Spring cleaning? Pysanky? Easter garden? Naturally dyed eggs?] might happen on Easter.”
What about you? What Holy Week traditions do you most love? Do you have other books you would recommend?