The liturgical calendar is one of the many beautiful elements of the Catholic Church. All of the great solemnities, feasts, and memorials we observe throughout the year serve to make faith come alive in our hearts.
The two great Holy Days, Christmas and Easter, are special in that they aren't simply a celebration during a single day; they're an entire season of celebration. These Holy Days are ushered in with a long period of spiritual preparation and culminate with a long period of celebration. Just as Advent prepares us for Christmas, so Lent prepares us for Easter. These are seasons that make the historical events of Jesus' life very real and present to us. And just as for Catholics the Christmas season doesn't end at midnight on December 25—but only just begins—so it is with the Easter season.
The Easter season (or Easter-tide) is a fifty day period beginning on Easter Sunday, the Church's celebration of Jesus' resurrection, and culminating on Pentecost Sunday, the Church's celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles.
Easter is the greatest (and the oldest) feast of the Church, even greater than Christmas! In fact, Easter is regarded as the “Solemnity of solemnities.” Just as our hearts well up with joy and gratitude for a Savior being born into the world, so should our hearts do the same as we remember the day when the Savior's work was completed. Christ's resurrection overcame all sin and death, reconciling us back to God.
The Easter season can and should be just as important for your family as Christmastime, and it's very easy (and fun!) to incorporate new Easter traditions into your Easter celebration. We can do this by simply taking our Christmas traditions and turning them into Easter traditions. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Just as we read the Christmas story from the Catholic Bible to our children at Christmastime, so also we can read the equally exciting Easter Story (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21).
- Just as we keep a Christmas tree in our homes, during Easter-tide keep your home full of fresh spring flowers—especially Easter lilies.
- Just as we give Christmas gifts, we can also celebrate this Easter season with great Easter gifts.
- Just as we say, “Merry Christmas,” we can say a traditional Easter greeting. Greet others with, “Christ is Risen,” while they respond with, “He is risen indeed!”
- Just as you send out Christmas cards to spread Christmas cheer, spread Easter-tide cheer with Easter cards.
- Just as you burn Advent candles to celebrate the light of Christ's birth into a darkened world, burn an Easter candle to celebrate the light of Christ's resurrection.
- Just as you have a special Christmas dinner with family and friends, have a special Easter dinner.
- Just as you use a nativity scene at Christmas-time, celebrate the resurrection by draping a white sash over the crosses & crucifixes in your home.
If you include these simple celebrations into your usual Easter traditions, such as decorating Easter eggs and filling Easter baskets, you will have a blessed and happy Easter indeed! God bless you and your family this Easter-tide.
Copyright 2012 Kathleen Wellman
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