Most people can tell you that Lent is 40 days, but how long is Easter? One day? Yes, Easter Sunday is one day, but do you know how long the season of Easter really is?
Think about that. Do you celebrate Easter one day, one weekend, all season, or with your entire life? Does the way you celebrate Easter show your family the importance of the Lord’s Resurrection in your life? Or is it all about the chocolate bunnies (or bilbies in Australia) and eggs with money inside? Do you know how to celebrate for the whole season and really inspire those around you to embrace their faith in Jesus as Savior?
“We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song,” Saint Pope John Paul II reminds us. It’s time for us to look at the cross with joy, and see love in suffering. All Lent we strived to fast and prepare ourselves for this! Now is the time to renew the rejoicing.
Celebrate so authentically and joyfully that those around you notice. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “If you want me to believe in your redeemer, you are going to have to look a lot more redeemed.” Make that effort to have Easter be more than merely a day. Make it your season to renew your Easter spirit in your entire life—even if life is challenging, even if you didn’t properly prepare yourself during Lent, even if you aren’t sure how. Like the women who found the empty tomb, shout for joy and tell the world!
Here are seven ways to keep celebrating Easter, even after Holy Week. Try one every week of Easter, or choose one as a new family tradition!
1. Pilgrimages, Processions, and Pretty Statues!
“Pretty” is an understatement in most circumstances. The Baroque statues carried around Spain’s enormous procession are positively stunning! So are the colors and art found in processions in Guatemala, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Reenacting the Passion of Christ is a very popular practice around the world for Christians, and you can incorporate His Passion, death, and especially Resurrection in your traditions. Perhaps a special annual pilgrimage to celebrate with fellow Christians at a Holy Site, such as St. Peter’s Square? Or you could organize a procession, relic display, or important talk series at your home parish for those who can’t go on pilgrimage.
Traditionally, statues in the church are covered during Lent with purple cloths, which you may have also done at your house. Now that Easter is here, shout “Alleluiah!” and let your statues shine. Place flowers around them, especially the crucifixes. Maybe you could make a tradition of adding an icon, contemplative statue, or other beautiful Christian work of art to your home every Easter. These could even be brought back from your pilgrimages to holy sites.
2. Spring Cleaning?
Yes, cleaning! It’s a time of newness. While Germans clean their homes and Greeks smash breakable pots and pans out their windows to symbolize spring, you might consider joining the fun. Maybe you don’t want to smash your kitchenware, but you could always get that dust out of your house and open the windows for fresh air while you spring clean.
Clean with a smile on your face and sing joyful Easter songs, remembering the Lord’s Resurrection. While you’re at it, what can you clean out of your house to donate to others? How can you simplify your life by simplifying your home, enabling you to focus more directly on Christ?
3. Eggs, of course!
Baby bunnies, butterflies, and blue skies—hello, spring! People often decorate eggs to celebrate Easter because it’s a symbol of spring and new life–like Jesus rising from the tomb.
Not everyone just dyes eggs, though. Some eggs are works of art! China is full of colorful chicks, dyed inside their eggs. In many countries, like China and America, it’s tradition to hold Easter egg hunts. Germans have egg dances, where they dance around eggs trying not to break them, and decorates trees with them, which is called Osterbaum. It’s tradition for American presidents to host an egg roll on the lawn of the White House grounds. People from Australia to Armenia have an egg tapping game. In Greece, the egg tapping game is called Tsougrisma, and they use red eggs to represent the Blood of Christ.
After fasting in Lent comes feasting in Easter! Each tradition has a special, delicious menu. For instance, in Bermuda they eat codfish cakes and in Argentina it’s meat empanadas. From Africa to Australia, many indulge in chocolate.
Try the traditional hot cross buns.
Or, Paraguayan chipa (Easter breakfast bread)
Or, Britain’s Simnal cake
Or, Eastertide Tart from Genoese, with traditionally 33 layers (one for each year of Christ’s life)
Don’t just feast, yourself! Per Russian tradition, give to poor families, those who are hospitalized, or in prison, and to beggars.
Feasting around the world also includes singing, dancing, and drums to announce and rejoice in the Risen Christ! Easter markets thrive in Germany, carnivals start in Indonesia, people in Nigeria wear white clothes, Ethiopians wear palm-leaf headbands, and many take vacation from work to be with family for the festivities!
5. Flames of the Holy Spirit
The liturgical season of Easter ends on the day we celebrate Pentecost. That day we celebrate the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the Apostles, and as with the whole season of Easter, we can celebrate by lighting candles. We light candles to represent many things such as God’s light ending our darkness through the Resurrection.
For Easter, we have a special Paschal candle. This candle usually has the current year on it to remind us that God is present with us always. Does your family have a special Paschal candle? Do you light candles in prayer at home?
If you visit Hungary during Easter, watch out for the “sprinkling” tradition! People splash each other with buckets of water to mark the Lord’s Resurrection. Water is a symbol of new life, blessing, and growth. Perhaps you can start a new family tradition of Hungarian sprinkling, water balloon games, or setting out the sprinklers in your yard for fun.
During this Easter season, prayerfully water your gardens so that all the colors of spring may bloom joyfully for the Risen Lord! You probably keep holy water in your home. Why not have special places where your family and friends can bless themselves and each other with the holy water?
7. Welcome in Spring by Celebrating the Resurrection
In Africa’s churches, people decorate for Easter with handmade, colorfully patterned fabrics. People in Bermuda fly homemade kites to remember Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven. You could adopt one of these traditions or find other ways to rejoice in the season in your home.
You could decorate your house with the colors of Easter—white and yellow/gold. You could even welcome a new family pet. You could not only grow flowers in your yard but also bring them into your house, especially Easter Lilies! (Lilies are poisonous, so keep them where no animals will attempt to eat them.) Most importantly, consider asking your priest or deacon for a house blessing (and dinner). While nature around you blooms with new life, it’s a perfect time to celebrate our life in the Risen Lord!
How does your household memorably celebrate the Easter season?