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Easter Season Activities for the Home Church

Many families observe the 40 days of Lent with holy practices, sacrifices, etc. Then comes the Easter Season, which lasts 50 days. After the Easter candy is eaten and the flowers are wilted, there often isn't much observation of the days between Easter and Pentecost. These suggestions are offered to help home churches observe the whole Easter Season along with the parish church. You may wish to substitute or add customs from your national heritage. Grandparents and other elders are often good sources for traditions that have been lost and could be revived to connect us with our faith roots.

Bake Easter Bread

The raising of the dough recalls Christ's rising on Easter. Use some of the time it takes for the dough to raise to reflect on and discuss as a family what life would be like without Jesus.

2 cakes dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
12 cups flour, sifted
½ cup sugar
½ lb. unsalted butter
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. sugar
½ pt. sour cream
6 egg yolks
1 cup warm milk
2 Tbsp. salt

Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tsp. sugar. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and beat well. Then add warm milk and sour cream. Mix together. Add half of the sifted flour and salt to mixture, and knead well. Add remaining flour and salt, along with raisins, and knead until smooth. Let raise 1 ½ hours. Punch down and let raise again for 2 hours. Shape into 3 small or 2 large round loaves and let raise again. Use some of the dough to make a cross for the tops. Before baking, brush top with beaten egg yolk to which some milk has been added. Bake at 350º for 45 minutes.

Make an Easter Lamb

Purchase a lamb mold at a cooking supply store and use it to mold butter for use on Easter and during the whole season, or purchase ready-made lambs in the dairy section of the supermarket. At meals, discuss the link between the butter lamb and the Lamb of God, who gives Himself as food in the Eucharist.

Make an Easter Candle

Candles symbolize Christ as the Light of the World, and the victory of His light over the darkness of sin and death. Each parish decorates a Paschal Candle as part of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. It remains in the sanctuary throughout the Easter Season, and is used during the celebration of the sacrament of Baptism. The symbols on the Paschal Candle include the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the alpha and omega. They are used in conjunction with Jesus' saying of Himself, "I am the beginning and the end."

On Easter, place a special candle on the meal table. Light it and have each person light a smaller candle from it. Say grace before meals together, and conclude with these words from the Easter Vigil: "Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. His are the times and the ages. To Him be glory and dominion through the ages of eternity. Amen."

Repeat the lighting of the Easter Candle and saying the prayer throughout the Easter Season. Reuse the candle and prayer as part of the family's celebration and prayer on the anniversaries of receiving sacraments will remind everyone that sacraments are ongoing realities, not just one-time events.

From The Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia