Every year our Easter celebrations get a little bigger (and better). We started in 2009 by celebrating Holy Week. Is that the right term? When we started increasing our Easter activities, the only thing that came to mind was the phrase used in Venezuela: "semana santa" to refer to the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
This year I wanted to really make it big, so we started all the way back on Ash Wednesday, which I have to Google every year to make sure I remember what it is. Just like our nightly Christmas devotionals, every night we've gathered around a candle advent calendar, but instead of 24 days to mark off, we count to 40. Forty days from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Forty days remind us of Christ's 40-day fast in preparation for his work; and 40 days to remind us of his life.
Here's the pattern for our nightly "emotional devotional": light the advent candles, sing, tell a story, hang an ornament on our Easter tree, fight over how many candles everyone gets to blow out (this is the "emotional" in our devotional), have family prayer.
The song is anything about Jesus from the Primary Songbook or the Hymnbook. This year the story part comes from a book I found on the bargain table at Seagull Book that summarizes Christ's ministry. We're just going along, hoping it works out to 40 stories for our 40 days. The ornaments are pictures of events from Christ's ministry from the Friend or the Ensign, glued on black or white cardstock, with a loop taped to the back--high class. We're still about five pictures short, so I'm hoping this next month's issues help me out! This year I'm just trying to amass 40 pictures. Hopefully I'll remember to keep my eyes open the rest of the year so I can upgrade my selections for future years. And the Easter tree is a bunch of forsythia branches from the backyard. When I first cut them, they were bare sticks. After about 10 days, they started to bud and we had great discussions about resurrection, and life coming out of death. Unfortunately, the branches won't last 40 days, so this is our second Easter tree. I got tired of dead flowers falling into the candles, so I cut a new batch.
The best part of course, has been the chance to review all of Christ's ministry in 40 days, even at the five-minute approach we're taking with our young kids. Seth has really gotten into the whole countdown thing. "Mom, it's 12 days until Palm Sunday!" It cracks me up. How many seven-year-old kids know what Palm Sunday is?