14 April 2011

Holy Week and Easter Traditions


Our family has a few traditions that my husband and I have continued for our girls. Does your family have any traditions? If so, I would love to hear about them!

We keep Holy Week prayerful in our home. No TV unless it's religious. This might prove difficult for my two year old, who likes to earn movies or a half hour tv show after dinner, but we'll replace it with reading and preparing for Easter, doing some art and other activities.

This Lent we went to a Rosary play on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. I really wanted to take Ruby Red, thinking that she might actually "get" what Lent and Easter is all about. I have talked to her about Jesus' death and Resurrection, but it is so hard for a little 2 year old mind to comprehend it all (even a 26 year old mind!), so I thought it would be a nice idea to have her see it played out. I was afraid she would be frightened but she wasn't; just very interested.
I've been wanting to do the Stations of the Cross every Friday but so far something has always come up (horrible excuse!). We are really going to focus on them during Holy Week. Maybe the reminder and step-by-step of Jesus' Passion and Death so close will really help Ruby Red understand what we are focusing on and celebrating that week. This weekend we are going to color them together, praying them as we do. Here are our favorite kid-friendly Stations of the Cross (once you click on the link, scroll down to get to them). I posted others below, along with the prayers that I thought appropriate for Ruby Red. The others are so beautiful, but I a little too difficult for a 2 year old to color.
Stations of the Cross1
Stations 2
Stations 3
Stations of the Cross prayers

We also go to the Broadway Market downtown during Holy Week, a tradition carried on by my maternal grandparents, who we used to go with when we were young. Now I take the girls, along with my family to get some pussy willows, Pisanki (Polish Easter eggs), cross bread and of course, have a little treat for ourselves! In the past, we made our own Pisanki, but to be honest, until Ruby Red and Baby Blue are a little older, I really don't think it's worth the time and effort to do this with them. Instead we will color our Easter eggs on Good Friday, by dipping hard-boiled eggs in dye. I would love to try dye made from beet juice and other veggies. I have the instruction in a cookbook (I can post them if someone is interested), but somehow the Paas kit just seems easier. Maybe in a few years....

Holy Thursday:
I would like to go to as much of the Triduum leading up to Easter Sunday as we can make it to with the girls. Of course, if it seems to be too overwhelming or fruststrating I say better to have quality lessons and activities centered on the Passion and Resurrection here at home than be frustrated, so we'll see what happens!

We also visit 7 Churches after Holy Thursday Mass. This tradition probably began in Rome where early Christians visited the 7 major basilicas as penance (St John Lateran, St Peter, St Mary Major, St Paul outside-the-walls, St Lawrence outside-the-walls, St Sebastian outside-the-walls and the Holy Cross in Jerusalem). In our family, we start the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary at the 1st Church, do a decade at each of the next 5 Churches and finish the rosary at the 7th. This way we are keeping with the penitential tone and not getting distracted.

Good Friday:
We fast and abstain from meat! (I know that if you're pregnant you do not have to fast, but honestly there are days I almost do fast as a result of being too busy to eat. If I get nauseous, then I will have a little something, but not much. Scroll to the bottom of this post for exclusions for fasting.) We turn off all electronics, unplug the phone and maybe put on some solemn religious music. We try to keep noon-3pm very prayerful and quiet, even if the girls play quietly while we pray, read or journal. We will probably say the Divine Mercy Chaplet and/or the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. We end our time of prayer by going to Church for Good Friday services and kissing the Crucifix. Ruby Red is always excited for this, as she often looks up at the Crucifixes in our home to kiss Jesus' "boo boos" and make them better. She even has Baby Blue pointing at the Crucifixes and saying "please" in her own little sign language (actually the sign for "milk" haha. I'm so glad that she equates the Crucifix with milk, her comfort food).
After Church we get together with my side of the family to make our own fish fries, color Easter eggs, and make our butter lambs.
History of the Easter egg

Instructions for making a butter lamb:
1 lb of butter (but not a brick of butter, you want the 4 sticks of butter)
Red ribbon
2 cloves
a little red embroidery floss
mesh strainer
tooth picks

Take 1 stick of butter and lay it on your plate.
  1. Cut a quater of another and put it near the end of the stick on your plate for the head.
  2. Cut the remaining sticks of butter into quarters.
  3. Work a quarter of butter at a time through the mesh strainer. Take off with a toothpick and place on your bare lamb that is on your plate.
  4. Continue until you have a fluffy lamb. (Be sure to leave some empty space for the face.)
  5. Put 2 cloves in for the eyes.
  6. Cut a small piece of embroidery floss for the mouth.
  7. Put a toothpick in the lamb's body.
  8. Make a flag with red ribbon. Fold in half lengthwise and cut diagonally at one end. Fold in half the other way and make 2 slits on top of one another. Secure to toothpick.
  9. Viola!
~Pictures to follow~

Holy Saturday:
We go to Confession and get our baskets blessed. In our Easter baskets, we have:
Butter Lamb (Baranek)- reminds us of the good will of Christ we should have towards all things.
Easter Bread- symbolizes Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Horseradish- symbolizes the bitter Passion of Jesus.
Eggs- symbolizes new life and Christ's resurrection from the tomb.
Polish sausage (Kielbasa)- symbolic of God's generosity.
Ham- symbolic of joy and abundance.
Salt (and Pepper)- a necessary element in our life. Symbolic of prosperity and justice.
Fruit (usually an apple and orange for us)
Placek (coffee cake)
Some people also put in a candle and greenery
Cover with a while linen cloth

Later that day we prepare for Easter Sunday. For us, this consists of decorating our house with all the activities we did that week. I don't like to decorate before this as I like to focus on sacrifice and Jesus' Passion during Holy Week. Beginning Easter Sunday up to Ascension Thursday, we take the next 40 days to celebrate the Resurrection.

Easter Sunday:
We go to Mass and celebrate our Lord's Resurrection, His triumph over death and our salvation!
Afterwards, we search for Easter baskets.
For our meal, Swieconka, the head of the household cuts an egg and shares it with the rest of the family, wishing them a blessed year. Then we all partake in the food which has been blessed the day before.

May you and your family have a holy and blessed Easter!

Exclusions from fasting and abstinence:
Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.  (Taken from http://www.catholic.org/clife/lent/abfast.php)

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, I love this! Thank you so much for all the explanations of the foods in the basket! It is no wonder that with such beautiful Easter customs, the Polish people gave us one of the greatest Popes ever--John Paul II!