For both children and adults alike, Christmas is, and probably always will be, a much bigger and more attractive holiday than Easter. Further, the date of Easter makes it difficult to plan for and get excited about, while Christmas is fixed for western Christians on December 25. The date of Easter, dependent as it is upon a lunar calendar, moves around from year to year, often catching us by surprise. But in his Christmas message in 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley made it clear that Easter really is the more important of the two holidays: “There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The baby Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection.”
With this in mind, many Latter-day Saints wonder how they, as individuals and as families, can use Easter and the days leading up to it to better celebrate the Atonement of Jesus Christ—His overcoming sin and death through the Redemption and the Resurrection. Over the years, my family has found that using the ways we celebrate Christmas as a guide can help us make Easter a more meaningful holiday, making it a learning and teaching opportunity as well as a real opportunity to worship together.
Christmas decorations and foods, while largely secular in nature, do much to prepare us for the festive and joyous feelings that accompany Christmas. Similarly, we have found that decorating for Easter well in advance, with both fun and religious decorations, helps add to our anticipation of the holiday.
As we do with Christmas decorations such as Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights, we make sure to take time to explain to our children how Christians have come to use these symbols to teach about the coming of the Savior into the world. Likewise, we explain how flowers, eggs, and even spring itself symbolize rebirth and new life. But beyond that, we display pictures around the house that represent the events of the last week of Jesus’ life to remind us of what He did for us. These include pictures of the Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, His praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Empty Tomb. We even have put together a little Easter “crèche,” which features figurines of Jesus riding a donkey with children waving palm branches for Palm Sunday and a replica of the Garden Tomb, which we open on Easter morning.
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