How to teach children the true meaning of Easter
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We strive to do the following:
Begin each week before Easter with a special family home evening. We read from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon about the resurrection and learn some new Easter songs.- Display pictures during the week of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Read related stories from Church publications about the Savior and His mission and sing songs.
- Invite grandparents on Friday evening to join us in decorating Easter eggs. The children hunt for them the next day (Saturday).
As we welcome in spring with thanks for the beautiful new season, we prepare ourselves to celebrate on Sunday with emphasis placed on the resurrection of our Savior.
Our children are teenagers now and have grown to have a greater appreciation for the Easter season because we have placed greater importance on our Savior's sacrifice instead of the Easter Bunny. - Ned and Carol Witbeck, Murray, Utah
How we did it:
The Easter story has always been special to us. We started teaching its true meaning to our children when they were very young. They knew from right off that the Easter Bunny was all in fun, but Christ's resurrection was the true excitement of the Easter season.
Some time ago, we purchased an animated tape called "He Is Risen." Our children enjoy it far more than the candy and boiled eggs. It really helps them understand the Easter story.
As our children got older, they talked of how their friends would get presents for Easter, just like on Christmas. We gently reminded them that Easter is always on the Sabbath day, and to keep this special sacred event holy, we must withdraw and turn our backs to the worldly enticings. Because we didn't build on the commercial side of Easter, our children don't miss it, nor have they expected it. They have reverence for the holy day. - Sharon Weaton, Evanston, Wyo.
We found it difficult to maintain spirituality in the face of Easter candy and the Easter Bunny. As a compromise, we decided to have "Easter Saturdays." The children put their baskets by their bedroom doors on Friday night to be filled with candy, and we have our Easter egg hunt Saturday morning. By Sunday, all that distraction is in the past. - Douglass and Susan Taber, Newark, Del.
Family home evening
Plan a family home evening on the Atonement. Have pictures and scriptures. LDS bookstores have an excellent "The Easter Story Coloring Book" and also the animated video "He Is Risen."
Teaching aids can be simple. Let the children act out a play. Have them prepare short talks for family home evening about the Atonement. Sing hymns. Bear your testimony of the Savior, His mission and what it means for you personally.
Ask the Primary teachers for suggestions from their manuals. Check out visual aids from the meetinghouse library. Read over Church News, Ensign, New Era and The Friend articles and stories. - Becky Robinette Wright, Richmond, Va.
Sadly, we realized that the two holidays recognizing our Savior's contributions to our happiness (Christmas and Easter) had each attached to them something worldly that often lead children away from focusing on the Savior. Feeling we would be disloyal to Christ if we followed the world's ways, we altered our celebrations.
We eliminated completely the Easter Bunny. Instead, we celebrate the change of seasons by having a "spring party" on the first day of spring, and at that time we give our daughter a spring basket, similar to an Easter basket. She loves it and excitedly looks forward to the party each year.
Our observance of Easter is more focused on Christ when the week before we read from the scriptures what happened during that last week of His life. We end with a special lesson on Easter Sunday on how His sacrifices benefit us. It has made all the differences in how we feel as parents trying to teach our child to love the Savior. - Marilyn Rish Parks, Springville, Utah
`Because of Jesus'
We have had a tradition in our family now for more than 23 years of giving the children their Easter baskets on Saturday and then enjoying a more spiritual day on Easter Sunday.
When the children were younger we would talk about Jesus, and spring and new flowers growing again. As they grew older, talks and discussions became more in-depth as their understanding grew. We would talk about the resurrection and the Atonement and how it applies to us.
I once asked my oldest child, then 8, to tell me about Easter. She said, "Easter eggs and baskets and bunnies are the fun things about Easter, but they are not the real reason we celebrate Easter; it is because of Jesus that we celebrate Easter." - Sally Briggs, Mountain Grove, Mo.
When our oldest children were very young, we decided to take the "bunny" out of Easter and put it where it belongs. Each year on the first day of spring, the children receive their "spring baskets" filled with candy. As Easter Sunday approaches, we begin to talk about Jesus, the Atonement and what Easter means to us. We use the family home evening manuals' two-part lesson on Easter for our pre-Easter family nights. We never grow tired of its message.
Easter Sunday is then a quiet, reverent Sunday free of candy and silliness. Our children do not feel deprived because they received their baskets of treats already, and they understand Easter to be special for sacred reasons. - Cheryl Koenig, Edmonds, Wash.
Last Easter, I wanted our family to focus on the Savior and His Atonement and resurrection. I placed pictures on the kitchen wall, according to the events that passed during the week of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Each day we read scriptures that went along with the pictures and throughout the week, we listened to the audio cassette, "O Divine Redeemer," by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
What followed was a new perspective and greater appreciation for our Savior. My young children asked many questions about Jesus as they saw the pictures and heard the stories. - Ruth Ann Williams, Salem, Utah
How to checklist:
1 Teach children that Easter is because of the Atonement.
2 Bear your testimony about Jesus Christ and His mission.
3 Use scriptures, pictures to discuss Savior's sacrifice.
4 Have baskets and egg hunts before Easter Sunday.
WRITE TO US:
April 15 "How to enhance your commitment to Church service beyond the three-hour block schedule."
April 22 "How to sustain the priesthood in the home."
April 29 "How to help those who are less-active."
May 6 "How to draw closer to those to whom you are assigned as a home or visiting teacher."
May 13 "How to cope with and find peace after the death of a child."
May 20 "How to find joy in work."
Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.