Christ is Risen! Easter Sunday (Pascha) is easily one of the biggest celebrations of the year. With time at church, a big family meal, and Easter egg hunts, our children catch on that the Sunday is important. But how to we continue to keep an Easter mind frame for the rest of the season? Celebrate Easter joyfully with these 9 Byzantine tips.
The Easter season lasts fifty days, all the way through to the feast of Pentecost. Now that’s a long time to party! In this article we are going to go through several ways to keep the feast this Easter season. It’s all about being intentional in celebrating the joy of the Good News. Some of the tips are specific to families with children, while other suggestions can work for anyone. I hope you find some that will work for you!
1. Wear White to Celebrate Easter
It is traditional for all Christians to wear white to celebrate Easter. Go shopping as a family and get everyone a new white clothing item. Although you can go for new dresses and dress shirts, there’s no need to break the budget. Especially if you have a larger family, getting everyone a brand-new pair of white socks will still bring the symbolism across.
The focus of this suggestion is going out as a family and being intentional about getting something new and white to celebrate the Easter season. Use this opportunity to remind your children that it’s because of Easter that we have a new life in Christ!
2. Use the Pascal Greeting
Another way to be intentional in remembering the Pascha season is to greet each other in the morning, and when someone comes home, with the Pascal greeting. In Byzantine countries, it is impossible to pass by even strangers on the street without hearing “Christ is Risen” and replying “Indeed He is Risen.” This beautiful tradition is lost in western countries. That doesn’t mean our families can’t bring it back!
An adaptation for families with children:
Turn the Pascal greeting into a game of “Simon says.” At the dinner table, don’t pass the potatoes unless the request is proceeded by the words “Christ is Risen.” For example, if you wanted more perogies you would say “Christ is Risen, pass the perogies please.” When Little Fox is old enough to play this, we will make anyone who forgets sing the whole Pascal troparion before continuing the meal.
Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs, giving life
Sing the Pascal troparion as a family. If you have bells, let the children ring them as you sing. We give Little Fox a rattle that has jingly bells in it, and she loves to shake it about when I sing the troparion to her. She can do this even at seven months.
The troparion can be added to a morning, evening, supper, or any other prayer routine. If you haven’t heard the troparion sung, there are some good YouTube videos that record it, such as this one which has it in several languages. If you’d like it to a different tone (how we sing it in our household), try listening to this video of an Easter Divine Liturgy, starting at about 16 minutes, when they enter the church again.
4. Share the Meaning of the Resurrection
Talk about what the resurrection means to you as a family. When everyone has shared challenge your children and yourself to share it with someone outside of your family during the following week. There’s no way to celebrate like a little evangelization! First, being mindful about what Easter means to you will help you be intentional in celebrating the season. Second, sharing this with others will help you appreciate it more.
5. Read Byzantine Easter Homilies
There are some solid Easter Homilies from the saints, such as from St John Chrysostom. Every week, pick a different Easter homily and read it as a family. It is traditional to Byzantine and Orthodox churches to read this Easter homily of St John Chrysostom. Another source for finding homilies is the New Advent Encyclopedia. If you’d rather listen to someone preach, my husband suggests watching videos from this Orthodox priest. The Badger Dad has shared his content with me before, but I must admit I like the video with Archimandrite Philip Hall’s dog the most.
6. Paint (‘write’) Pysanky/Easter Eggs
It’s never too late to paint Easter eggs! If you have a crafty child in your family, this activity will be much beloved. If painting eggs is a little beyond the skill set of your children, you can print out colouring pages, or simply an image of an oval so that your children can design eggs on paper.
This is a classic celebratory game for the children. Only, it doesn’t have to always be chocolate! If you have the plastic refillable Easter eggs, you can add bible verses, coins/money, other candies, stickers, egg shaped erasers… the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Pick a different theme for the egg hunt every weekend during the Easter season.
8. Egg games
Never heard of Surprising Eggs? First you need enough eggs for every member of the family. Boil all of the eggs except one. Then everyone grabs one of the eggs from the bowl. Players can trade eggs but when everyone is happy with their egg, it’s time to crack the egg hard on a plate. The surprise is who is going to get the messy fingers!
9. Share Easter Baskets with the Poor
Just because Lent is over, doesn’t mean it’s time to stop alms giving. Put together an Easter basket for a family in need, or to give to someone who doesn’t have an Easter basket. To read more on the tradition of Easter baskets, read my last article on how Byzantines celebrate Easter Sunday. Download our free Easter Card and write a message spreading the joy of Easter to whomever you will give your basket.
So what about you?
How are you going to be intentional about celebrating the Easter season. If you have ideas other than those listed here, please share in the comments for everyone else to be inspired as well!