As spring weather starts to roll in for many of us and the days feel a bit longer, you’ve probably started to think about all your Easter plans! You’ll want to start gathering everyone’s unique Easter gifts or thinking about your Easter dinner. If you’re celebrating at home this year, you might feel like you’ve run out of ideas to make things fun and interesting. Not to worry! No matter how you’re celebrating this year, we’ve put together some fun and innovative ways to make it egg-stra (get it?) special!
The Reason for the Season
Easter is a historically significant holiday for many cultures. Typically referred to by Christians as the Resurrection Day, Easter symbolizes Jesus’s rise from the grave despite being nailed to a cross. For many Christians, this day is special and deserves a unique celebration. It signifies rebirth, and many Christians feel it fully exemplifies their concepts of rebirth and life after death. Eastern and Western Christians originally celebrated the holiday on different days, but most Christian churches now celebrate it on the first Sunday following the first full moon right after March 21–also known as the spring equinox. Some Eastern Orthodox churches continue to assert that Easter shouldn’t be celebrated during the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Easter happens after the Christian time of Lent, which the Catholic church uses in anticipation of the holiday by fasting. Some abstain from different types of food, as that’s a more traditional aspect of Lent. However, since some people can’t fast for medical reasons, more commonly people will choose something specific they feel they spend too much focus on and fast from that for Lent. Today, many people choose to abstain from social media, sugars, alcohol or even specific TV shows and activities. There are actually particular rules about this. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the first and last days of Lent), the people participating fast by having just one meal during the whole day with smaller snacks in between, and on the other Fridays of the season, they abstain from eating meat. It can seem like a lot to keep track of, which is why many people choose to just give up one particular aspect of their lives for the season. Then, on the Saturday after Good Friday, they either resume their habit or decide to cut it out entirely. It’s up to them!
We can’t forget the non-Christian foundations of the holiday, either! St. Bede, a historian and author from the 6th century, asserted that the English word for Easter was based on the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility (this is, of course, debated by many in the field–who are we to know for sure?). Regardless, many maintain that Easter originates from Pagan influences and culture. In fact, Easter eggs have ties to Pagan roots, especially because of their representations of fertility. Egg decorating is just one of the many aspects of Easter traditions that non-Christians participate in, avoiding the religious aspects of the holiday altogether. The Easter bunny is another example of a non-religious aspect of the holiday.
How Easter Is Traditionally Celebrated
Easter is traditionally celebrated in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Easter egg hunts: Churches, businesses and neighborhoods would often sponsor Easter egg hunts, where children would all go exploring through yards and fields to find plastic eggs and place them into a basket. Of course, the child with the most eggs would win an additional prize. A majority of the eggs were filled with different prizes so everyone was a winner in some aspect. Typically, these eggs were filled with candy, small toys or even cash!
- Easter dinner: Many families got together for a large Easter feast. Since most were just freshly coming off their fast from Lent, it was the first opportunity they had to eat a large meal in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Featuring lamb, ham, deviled eggs, bread, potatoes and lots of other carb-filled deliciousness, Easter dinners were always a sight to behold.
- Easter brunch: For some, brunch is traditionally the name of the game. Rather than have a large Easter dinner, many opt for a large Easter brunch. With Easter pie, hot cross buns and even a cheese danish or two, Easter brunch was a way to celebrate after mass or Easter church services.
- Decorating Easter eggs: Before any of the traditional Easter activities could commence, many families would decorate Easter eggs together. The techniques each family would use varied. Some would boil the eggs and then use food coloring and vinegar to stain the eggs, while others would paint the eggshell with watercolors. No matter the process, coloring Easter eggs is a traditional way to celebrate the holiday.
How to Celebrate Easter at Home This Year
For many families, Easter’s going to be celebrated at home this year. Many of the traditional events that families would partake in have been canceled or postponed, so it’s important that you come up with some fun and unique ways to celebrate at home! Here are some of our favorites:
- Stream a worship playlist: While cooking Easter breakfast or dinner, why not stream a worship playlist? This is perfect for families who are choosing to sleep in this Easter and skip Easter services. Focus on finding one that has a lot of upbeat music since Easter is all about celebration and fun!
- Mail out Easter cards: Sit the kids down and have them write out heartfelt messages to all your friends and family. You can even make some for your neighbors and go for a walk to place them in everyone’s mailboxes! For your closest friends and family, include a sweet personalized Easter gift for a special touch.
- Stream church service: If you’re one of the many Christians who will be celebrating Easter at home this year, why not stream the church service? Easter Sunday is one of the most-attended church services of every year. Since more people will be venturing out to attend service this year, do your part to keep your family safe by streaming the church service live!
- Have an at-home hunt: An at-home Easter egg hunt is a fun way to get the kids energized for the day (or use up all their energy from breakfast!). Much like Christmas, they’re probably excited to go find their personalized Easter baskets filled with all their Easter goodies, so why not hide their gifts throughout your home and backyard for them to discover? Consider going a step further and creating a unique riddle for each of your children to solve to find their gifts. Give them an empty basket to put all their gifts in as they find them! Then, when they’ve completed the riddle, they should have a basket full of all their gifts. Incentivize them by giving the first child to correctly fill their basket with all their gifts an additional prize, like a night off from chores or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
- Start a new tradition: It can be tough to do yet another large holiday at home this year. For many, it’s just another reminder that we can’t all be together physically. Instead of reminiscing on how things used to be, why not create something new? Use this opportunity to establish a new Easter tradition that your children will take with them for years to come. Whether that’s baking Easter bread or decorating the home with lots of bunnies and carrots, there are plenty of things you can do as a family that will take everyone’s minds off being home this year.
- Wear your Easter gear: Whether that’s a t-shirt with a bunny on it or a fun Easter dress, wearing your Easter gear is a great way to celebrate at home this year. It’s such a fun way to liven up the holiday. Even if you’re just running to a local restaurant to pick up some to-go food, why not make it interesting and wear your Easter best?
- Support a small business: Not every business owner will shut down for Easter this year, so they’ll need your support to stay open. Consider supporting a small business for some Easter cheer this year. From restaurants to clothing stores, small businesses need all the help they can get. Order your Easter dinner from a local restaurant, grab your Easter cards from an indie stationery store or purchase some gift certificates to use at a later date!
- Exchange Easter gifts: While traditionally you do this during the Easter egg hunt, why not do something different this year and instead exchange gifts like you do during Christmas? After breakfast or brunch, pass out the gifts. Some of our favorites include glass photo frames for the adults and personalized Easter bunnies for the kiddos. With so many options, you’ll want to get a gift for everyone you know!
- Bake a cake: Who doesn’t love cake? This is something that anyone can do–no kids necessary! Of course, if you do have kids, make sure to involve them in the process. They can help you measure, gather ingredients and–of course–taste the batter before it goes in the oven! Bake multiple layers and let each kid decorate their own. Or, if you have a quarantine pod, have a decorating contest. Adults love to compete, too! The best part is that you all get to enjoy cake afterward, no matter who wins.
- Have a virtual event: Just because you can’t be together in-person, that doesn’t mean you have to avoid each other all day on Easter! Schedule a video call with all your friends and family. Bonus points if you can get everyone together on one call. Even if it’s just to check in for five minutes with everyone, getting to see each other’s smiling faces can really make it feel like a normal Easter. That small amount of interaction can really go a long way in livening up your holiday.
- Make the dining room table fancy: Even if it’s just you for Easter dinner, why let the table look drab? Break out the china, set out some tall, thin candles and incorporate some fresh spring flowers into the tablescape for a beautiful dining experience. Dye some Easter eggs and incorporate them into the design, too! Post a picture on Instagram and watch as the likes roll in. You’d be surprised at how many people will love the idea!
- Donate to a local charity: Since Easter is all about joy, you can spread some joy around this year by donating to a local charity. You don’t have to give humongous sums of money. Practically all charities will feel grateful you even donated at all. In a time when we all need a little joy to feel better, donating to a local charity will help you do just that. From homeless shelters to natural disaster aid funds, you can donate to practically any cause out there. Your conscience will feel good, and the charities will probably send you a thank you note, too!
Easter this year will look different for many people than in years past. The holiday is what you make of it. Use this time to really focus on your love for your family! Whether you start a new tradition or continue on with old ones, what matters most is that you’re all together, safe and healthy. Watch an Easter sermon with the kiddos or spend the day dancing around the kitchen while baking sugar cookies. The choice is yours!