Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ash Wednesday and Our Family's Lenten Traditions

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It's hard to believe that Lent will be here next week with the first day of Lent starting with Ash Wednesday on March 1, 2017. 

Before I explain some of our family's favorite Lenten traditions, I wanted to share about our Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday traditions.

King Cake for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
The day before Ash Wednesday is also known as Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and I usually try to make our traditional King Cake and hide a plastic baby somewhere in the cake.  My children like to see who will find the baby and whoever finds it has to provide the King Cake for next year's Mardi Gras. :) This King Cake tradition is also celebrated on Epiphany.

And if you don't want to make a homemade king cake or buy one at the store, you could try Mini King Cakes out of cinnamon rolls, icing and sprinkles.  I'll be doing this for the first time this year!

Mini King Cakes

Pancakes for Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday
For breakfast or lunch or dinner we will have pancakes, bacon, fruit. Fat Tuesday is also known as "Shrove Tuesday" and a traditional meal for Shrove Tuesday is pancakes.  Why pancakes?  Great question!  Here's the interesting answer!    Did you know one day could have so many different names? :)

So what is Shrove Tuesday all about?  As stated at About Religion"Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church. "Shrove" is the past tense of the word "shrive," which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. Shrove Tuesday is a reminder that we are entering a season of penance." 
Now onto Ash Wednesday....

What is the significance of putting ashes on one's forehead to start the Lenten season?  Below is a quote from an article on About.com 

A Day of Repentance:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

In this article, Ash Wednesday Our Shifting Understanding of Lent, it states the following:
When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth ("Remember that you are dust"). We remember that we are mortal beings ("and to dust you will return"). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion ("Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Here is a great 2 minute video about Ash Wednesday and Lent:

Now onto Lenten traditions our family has enjoyed through the years. I hope there is an idea that will be new to you and you will want to try it with your family....

Lenten Love Links
My Lenten Love Links idea all started with my 6 year old asking me several years ago, "When is Easter Mom?" and then I came across the 40 Acts of Lenten Love for Children from Homeschool with Love that I pinned to my Lent Pinterest board.  I loved the ideas on how children (and adults) can show love in Lent for the 40 days (the Lent "count" does not include Sundays) in Lent and I wanted a way for my children to count down until Easter Sunday. So I combined the two ideas into one.  Read more... 


Salt Dough Crown of Thorns
Next week we will be making our annual crown of thorns out of salt dough and you can find the link for the recipe at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).

Here is a picture I took several year's ago while my kids' hands mixed the salt dough ingredients

Each time our children and my husband and I make little or big sacrifices during Lent, we will pull out a toothpick to remove Jesus' thorns from his crown. 

So many opportunities to think beyond ourselves, hence the many, many, many "thorns.

Then just before Easter, our children will paint the thorn-less crown gold and glue jewels on the crown to represent that Jesus our King has risen!  The decorated crown looks lovely on the Easter table.  Here is a picture of a crown we did a few years ago.

Bean Jar
Speaking of sacrifices, another Lenten tradition our family does is the "bean jar".  We have a bowl filled with dried kidney beans, then when a family member makes a sacrifice, they put a bean in the jar.  Then on Easter morning the children will find that the beans that have accumulated in the jar during Lent will be changed into colorful and yummy jelly beans!  I told the kids that on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent they could get a "2 for 1" deal on their sacrifices, meaning if they do something on Fridays they can pull a toothpick and put a bean in the jar vs. choosing one or the other like on the other Lenten days.  :-)

A few years ago we added these beautiful printables from Catholic Icing to our crown of thorns and bean jar. 

Holy Heroes-Lenten Adventure
I got the bean jar idea from Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure several years ago and we decided to try it in our home during Lent.  Our family loves Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure (and Advent Adventure) and you can register your email for free to receive weekly links all about Lent.  I have learned so much along with my children!

Family Devotional Books

Throughout Lent our family will be reading once again, A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent by Angela M. Burrin.  We really enjoy this book as it is written to promote family prayer and the characters in each story for each day of Lent are children and families that live in Jesus' time.  Then after each story that is based on scripture there is a "Jesus, Speak to Me" section where it is written as if Jesus is speaking to us.  This is a wonderful book that has been great to read as a family each day during Lent! 

Stations of the Cross 
Many years ago, when my older two children were little I had them color printable stations of the cross.  I then glued them onto construction paper and each Lent we tape them up in order on our dining room wall.  Each Friday as a family we pray through the stations of the cross with these if we don't attend our parish's Lenten soup suppers and Stations of the Cross.  I like the simplicity of these Stations of the Cross and maybe this year I can have my younger children color some to update these.

I can't remember where I got these particular coloring pages, but here are some other great printable stations of the cross that children can color from Kristen at Drawn 2B Catholic.

Several years ago, I found a simple presentation of the Stations of the Cross for kids 10 and under and this is what we use to say the stations during Lent.  It was in The Word Among Us Lenten Family Edition, Lent 2006 and HERE is a link to part of the article if you would like to review it.  Only subscribers to The Word Among Us can view this kid's version of Stations of the Cross in its entirety, however.
Speaking of Stations of the Cross this is one of my favorite crosses, which is a magnetic Stations of the Cross.  I gave this cross as a gift to my husband's cousin who entered into full communion with the Catholic Church with my husband on Easter 2006.  When she passed away, our family inherited this beautiful cross.  I was able to track down where I bought this cross several years ago.  St. Andrew's Church Supply carries them.   

You can find out How We Say the Stations of the Cross at Home using the coloring photos and the magnetic cross below.


Bury the Alleluia
Another Lenten tradition we started doing just last year was to "bury the Alleluia".  Last year I wrote a post on 7 Ways to bury the Alleluia at the beginning of Lent.

Make Homemade Pretzels 
Some years we get around to making homemade pretzels like in the book Walter the Baker that tells some history about the pretzel also.  Did you know that the pretzel can be a good reminder that we can turn to the Lord in prayer and is an especially popular food during Lent?  It's a fun book to read and the pretzels are easy and fun to do!

Meatless Meals

I'm always on the look out for meatless dishes during Lent and this Seafood Spaghetti dish is easy and delicious.  You can find the recipe at my blog post from the archives.

On Ash Wednesday and during all Fridays during Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat as a form of fasting and penance.  For more information about the history of Lent, I would encourage you to read What are the origins of Lent? Did the Church always have this time before Easter? 

Brittany also has a great summary of Lenten practices at What Can I Eat During Lent? (Complete Lent Fasting Rules Made Easy). Although Brittany has not entered into full communion with the Catholic Church (yet :) ), I'm in awe of the amount of research and time she has invested to blog about various teachings of the Catholic Church.  May God continue to bless Brittany's journey of continually seeking Truth and understanding!  

In the article I learned something new when it stated, "The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning "Spring," and lenctentid, which literally means not only "Springtide" but also was the word for "March," the month in which the majority of Lent falls."

Larabeth Miller at A Place in His Garden has a Crucifixion List for Lent, which lists 20 simple, beautiful and sacrificial ways to unite our frustrations, crosses and sufferings to the cross of Christ.  Go check it out and be inspired!

Be sure to visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for more of my Lent posts from the archives, as well as browse other liturgical seasons and feast days that our family has celebrated in the past.

This post is linked to the CWBN Blog Hop with #HowWeLent theme! Be sure to visit how other readers are spending their Lent this year. 


This post is also linked to New Evangelists Monthly - March 2017, Issue #51

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Sarah said...

I love your family traditions, Tracy! My kids love doing the bean jar ... I will have to get that ready for next week! God bless your Lenten journey!

Anonymous said...

You know I'm a big fan of yours. I admire how much you do.
I am looking for teen activities. <3 Sigh... 13 is hard. HAHA
Love your traditions.

These are wonderful traditions! Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

Anonymous said...

Hi- Great post...curious though...In my upbringing, meatless meals were a way to offer sacrifice. We had rice and contributed the money not spent on meat to the poor.
Seafood sounds like something I would have loved way more than meat on Fridays!
Just curious how that works for your family?

vkochis said...

We made pretzels one year - it was a blast!

I love the ideas you've shared. Thanks so much for this peek into your life!

Unknown said...

Many great ideas! When I taught CCD years ago we did the pretzels and the kids loved it.

Leslie said...

So many great ideas here! I am especially drawn to creating an at-home Stations of the Cross. The Crown of Thorns is amazing.

Unknown said...

Great ideas, as always, Tracy! I love the 2 for 1 Sacrifice plan for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday...and I love the magnetic cross with the Stations! Beautiful!

Holy cow! These are great ideas and resources!! I actually sent my husband a screen shot of the Crown of Thorns and Bean Jar and asked him if he would like to do those as a family, since I suspect our Preschooler would be able to understand the simple meanings behind those! The only catch might be the length of time - 40 days is such a long time for such little kids! Maybe we can make it a 20 day stretch for the 4 year old... 🤔

Thank you for this great post! I am excited to maybe incorporate some of these into Lent this year, so that it is still a family faith-building adventure!

Thank you Sarah! I hope you enjoy the bean jar and have a blessed Lent! Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Emily!

Yeah, I need teen ideas too. So share with me please, if you find anything you like for your son! :) Thanks for stopping by and a blessed Lent to you!

Thank you Chiara and thanks for stopping in to read my post! Have a blessed Lent!

Hi Lauralee,

Abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent for our family is a sacrifice and we don't realize how much we eat meat until we don't eat it.:) The seafood spaghetti recipe is yummy and easy, but we still consider it "legit" because it's meatless. I guess I look at it the same way I look at fish on Fridays. Actually we don't eat a lot of seafood at home, so even going out to a parish fish fry during Lent seems like a luxury, not a sacrifice. But, I guess that's where sacrificing in other ways can help with the fasting on Fridays.


The pretzels are a little too delicious and easy to make. :) Glad you enjoy them too! Have a blessed Lent and thanks for visiting!

Thank you Toni! Oh I bet your kids did love the pretzels! So fun and meaningful! Have a blessed Lent!


I hope you are able to make a set of stations with your family! Have a blessed Lent and thank you for visiting!

Thank you Monica! The magnetic Stations of the Cross is such a treasure for our family! :) Have a blessed Lent and thank you for stopping by!

Thank you Beautiful CM for visiting! So glad you want incorporate some of our family's traditions with your family! Yeah, 40 days is long (even for adults too sometimes :) )

Have a blessed Lent!

Katie said...

This is a great list! We've been doing the bean jar for a few years now but I think this is the year we'll have to add another tradition or two! Also, I had no idea about Pancake Tuesday!

Unknown said...

Love all your ideas in one post! If you want more Stations of the Cross coloring pages I published some last year. http://www.drawn2bcreative.com/stations-of-the-cross-coloring-pages/

Thanks Katie for your visit! So glad you found another Lenten tradition you can try with your family! Have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Thank you Kristen for stopping by and for the link to the coloring pages! Have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Love all these ideas, Tracy!! I was wondering what we should eat tomorrow for Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes it is!! Thanks, girl, for all these great links and ideas!! God bless you this Lent!!

Oh good! I'm glad my post inspired you to have pancakes for Shrove Tuesday! :) Enjoy and a blessed Lent to you!

Unknown said...

Hi, Sarah here from ComeIntotheWord.com. What a lovely "slice of life" from your home, just reading your lent post! I'm glad I found it through the CWBN blog hop. I wish I had had some of these ideas when my kids were small, but now I'll be able to pass them on for my grandchildren when they're big enough. We did make a crown of thorns once at work. I recommend that one :) Blessings on your Lent!

Thank you Sarah for your visit and comment! Congratulations on your grandchildren! I love the crown of thorns activity too. Simple and meaningful :) Hope you are having a blessed Lent!

Kerry said...

These are such fun ideas! Your kids must love it. I especially like the bean jar, it has such great symbolism for kids. We might try something like that next year.

Hi Kerry!
Thanks for stopping by for a visit and your comment! The bean jar is easy and fun to do for sure! (not always easy to make the sacrifices though) :) Have a blessed Lent!

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