Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Holy Week and Easter 2017

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Happy Easter!  Alleluia! He is Risen!

My (long, photo dumped) Easter post here may seem late BUT just like Christmas is a season and not just one day, Easter is also not celebrated in just one day in the Church's liturgical calendar, but rather Easter is a season called Eastertide.  So keep celebrating for 50 days until Pentecost!  And if you are looking for ways to celebrate the 50 days of Easter, be sure to visit Nicole's post 50 Ways to Celebrate the 50 Days of Easter With Your Children

I'm jumping way ahead of myself now...more on how we celebrated Easter 2017 in a bit.   It's time to back track to the beginning of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.

On Palm Sunday, my daughters helped hand out palms outside of church and our son was one of the altar servers as the cross bearer.  The crucifix looked a bit different on Palm Sunday with a red cloth and palms branching out from it.  The Mass began outside of church for the blessing of the palms and then everyone processed into church with their palms and the continuation of the Mass.

I love this photo on the left of our 3 year old with her praying hands.  Makes my heart so happy! :) 

After Mass, we had a Young Families gathering and we made palm branches out of green construction paper and popsicle sticks using the post Hosanna Branch Wavers.  Here's the finished product that my 3 year old made with my assistance. 

At the beginning of Holy Week on Palm Sunday, we did a tradition we have been doing for several years now.  We burn a few small palm branches into a small post of soil.  Then plant grass seeds.   So by the time Easter arrives there is real Easter grass! Actually, it's best to plant the grass even before Palm Sunday to guarantee grass will be sprouting in time.  Here is a photo of our real Easter grass!

On Monday of Holy Week, my daughters and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and headed to our local beach while my husband and son stayed home to paint a bedroom.  The girls were happy to be at the beach and not painting.  They even swam, but too cold for me!

On Monday of Holy Week, we also made homemade pretzels and read the wonderful Eric Carle book Walter the Baker that tells the humorous story of how the Lenten tradition of pretzel making came to be.

And to find the pretzel recipe, you can hop over to my original post from the archives that has a photo of the recipe.

On Tuesday of Holy Week, we visited the beautiful prayer garden that was created by a couple in my parish in their yard.  This has been an annual tradition since 2014.  The garden is open year round and all our welcome, but we usually think to visit it during Holy Week.   It's a beautiful and peaceful garden where you can pray the Stations of the Cross. I love taking photos of all the treasures that the owners have placed.  Here are photos from this year's visit to Via Cruces (Way of the Cross).

On "Spy Wednesday" of Holy Week, we remembered when Judas betrayed Jesus when he was paid 30 pieces of silver to hand Jesus over.  We have been doing this tradition since 2014 where I hide 30 quarters/dimes ("silver") and my children have to find them. It's a quick, easy activity and it's interesting to observe how my children act during it.

The handprint page in the photo above is from the binder 2 of my daughters created in 2015 called Holy Week in Handprints. I bought the printouts from Catholic Icing and we did the handprint activities to go along with each day during Holy Week.

Also on Spy Wednesday of Holy Week, we went to Tenebrae ("Darkenss") at my parish.  This is a beautiful ancient service to remind us of the dark days ahead on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

On Holy Thursday of Holy Week our family went to Mass in the evening in celebration of the institution of the Eucharist at Jesus' Last Supper, the institution of the priesthood, and the washing of the feet.
Holy Thursday marks the beginning of the Triduum, the 3 holiest days of the Catholic Church's calendar, which includes Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday .  Be sure to visit my Holy Thursday post from the archives that gives more information about Holy Thursday and includes a beautiful video. 

On Good Friday of Holy Week, our family went to my parish to pray the Stations of the Cross at noon, then went back to church at 3PM for the service of the Passion of our Lord and the veneration of the cross.  Did you know that Good Friday is the ONLY day of the entire year that Masses are not celebrated around the world?   We still have communion at Good Friday service, but the bread is consecrated and saved from Holy Thursday Mass to be distributed on Good Friday.  The altar is stripped bare and the crucifix and statues remain covered with cloth to symbolize mourning and longing to see our Risen Lord on Easter Sunday.   Here is a beautiful Good Friday reflection from my archives.   And these 9 Things You Need to Know about Good Friday is informative and insightful.
After noon Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, we came home and had our annual Symbolic Lunch for Good Friday that we have been doing since 2014.
If you read about the list of ingredients and what they symbolize from my 2014 post, you'll see why my husband and children are making funny faces in the photo above. :)

On Holy Saturday of Holy Week, we made preparations for Easter Sunday by making a few dishes for Easter lunch at my parent's house.  For Saturday morning, I made Easter themed cheese and crackers for the NICU/PICU staff and families luncheon that a group of volunteers coordinate each year. I used Easter themed cookie cutters for the cheese.

Last year I made this buttered lamb thanks to Jen's inspiration at Faith and Fabric. But, our lamb is not edible because I kept it in my fridge all year and took it out again this year and just did a few touch ups.  Ha! :)  And since I didn't have kale available I just shredded some green paper for "grass".

We also made bird's nests like I did last year that are easy and festive.

Dying eggs is always a highlight of our Easter tradtions...

And painting our salt dough crown of thorns (a Lenten tradition) gold and putting jewels on them just in time for Easter is a fun tradition we do too. 

The sacrifices that were made and the toothpicks that were pulled from the salt dough crown now turn into a beautiful gold crown and jewels to symbolize the King of Kings has risen on Easter Sunday!  Also, the sacrifice beans that were collected in our jar turn into sweet jellybeans on Easter Sunday.

On Holy Saturday we also enjoy making resurrection rolls. Besides the fact that they are delicious, I love how the marshmallows symbolize Jesus' body and you roll the marshmallow in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar (to symbolize the oils and spices rubbed on Jesus' body) and they it is wrapped into a crescent roll like Jesus was wrapped in linens. After baking the "tombs" the inside of the roll comes out hollow like Jesus' empty tomb!  For scripture references and further directions visit Catholic Icing.

Another tradition and yummy tradition we do is make Easter Story Cookies. While making the cookies you can read the Easter Story and each ingredient symbolizes a different part.   For example, the first ingredient is chopping pecans with spoons to represent Jesus' beatings and suffering. The pecans eventually are folded into the mix and represent the stones of the tomb when the cookie is finished baking.

After the batter is made, we put them in a pre-heated oven and then turn the oven off overnight. Then our children seal the tomb with tape.  On Easter morning before we go to early morning Mass (if you don't go to the Vigil Mass the night before) the tape is removed and the cookies are done!  Inside the cookies are hollow like Jesus' tomb!  They are so yummy and sweet like the sweet story of Jesus' resurrection.

Easter Sunday brought more sweet surprises, Mass with the family, gazing upon our beautiful parish decorated for Easter, a turtle find in our backyard, an egg hunt at my in-laws house and a lovely lunch in my parent's backyard.

"We are an Easter people and 
hallelujah is our song."
-St. John Paul II

(We hide the kids' baskets under a little room under our stairs so that they don't see them right away on Easter morning so that we can get up early, attend 7:30AM Mass and then come home and go through the baskets. This year my kids got candy, an outfit each, boogie boards, goggles and a towel for the beach and pool and the books A Knight's City:With Amazing Pop-Ups and an Interactive Tour of Life in a Medieval City! and The Complete Peter Rabbit Library 23 books Boxed Set Collection. I found both of the these at a child's consignment store in town.  The Peter Rabbit Library is a treasure and I enjoy reading these tales to my daughters.

If you got through this long post, you are awesome! :)  I hope you are having a blessed Easter season! 

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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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