SummaryTraditions always brought Amy Pawlusiak’s family together and now, as a mom, she passes them on to her children to make Easter special, memorable, and holy.
When I was a little girl growing up in Michigan, Easter was my favorite holiday.
To me, it spoke of spring, which was the only thing I wanted after months of cold, dark, and miserable weather. There was so much hope in sun, warmth, and new life. Easter also meant a new dress, and special traditions that brought our family together.
Now, I share these traditions with my children. Even though we now live in Florida, we are still doing these traditions together, and it makes Easter special, memorable, and holy.
Easter is About Jesus
The modern world tries to take over Easter by pushing the concept of an “Easter Bunny” and tells us that we need to buy lots of candy and treats for Easter baskets. We can’t go anywhere without seeing what the world says Easter “should” be. Yet, Easter is about Jesus.
To me, Easter is not a holiday that can really lose its meaning since it’s all about the Resurrection of Him who died on the Cross. No matter what the world does, it all comes down to Him. How to really celebrate this is another matter. So, I want to invite you into my childhood. My mother is Polish, so growing up we followed many of the traditions of the Polish Catholics.
In our family, Holy Week meant preparation! Many people buy Easter baskets for their children filled with toys and candy for Easter morning, but our Easter basket was different. In our family, we filled our own baskets with things we made or special store-bought items.
Each thing in the basket had meaning, and we would take our baskets to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed. The blessed food then became the Easter breakfast we ate together as a family. You can add whatever you want, but here is a sample of the things we would add and their meanings:
- Butter, shaped like a lamb or cross. The lamb would have a red collar (red ribbon) shaped into a cross to remind us of Christ. If you don’t have a butter lamb, it’s also easy to shape it into a cross. I bought a lamb mold online to make my own, and now I make 3-5 lambs a year to share with friends and family.
- Easter bread (homemade or bought). I still have my mother’s Easter bread recipe that I make every year. I encourage you to make some special Easter bread with your family if you can. Many people have special recipes or will shape the bread into a braid (three strands recalling the Trinity), or cut a cross in the center of it before baking.
- Kielbasa (Sausage). Often, people give up meat for Lent, and having a special meat on Easter Sunday reminds us of God’s generosity and goodness.
- Horseradish. This reminds us of Jesus’ Passion and death, still fresh in our minds from Good Friday (also tastes good on Kielbasa!)
- Eggs. Beyond dying eggs, we also decorate them with symbols of life, like flowers and chicks, or a cross. Eggs always symbolize new life!
- Ham, to remind us also of God’s abundance.
- Cheese, which symbolizes the moderation we should continue to keep at all times.
- Salt and Pepper. I have pretty little salt and pepper shakers that I use every year for the basket blessing. Salt and pepper are the spices of life, and remind us that we, as Christians, are the flavor of the earth.
- Candle to light, to remind us that Christ is our light!
- Chocolate, because God is good, and His sweetness is our joy!
Finally, we decorate the baskets with ribbons and sprigs of greenery, and when we bring it for a blessing, we put pretty linen cloths on them to cover our food for the trip to and from church.We are blessed that our church offers a basket blessing on Holy Saturday, but if you live in an area that does not offer it, just ask your priest to bless your food with holy water, or to give a simple blessing.
Every year, I make a small loaf of bread just for the priest who blesses our food. It is good to let our priests know we love and appreciate them! The food is then set aside to be eaten on
Easter morning, or as a brunch. Sometimes we go to Mass first, then have our breakfast, but most often, I set the table the night before (with nice, Easter plates and decorations) for us to enjoy the breakfast as a family before Mass.
The children really enjoy sitting down to eat this breakfast together, because most often they have helped to make the bread (the older ones), or have decorated the eggs and baskets (the younger ones). Everyone has something to contribute! Once the food is blessed, however, try to be careful to use all of it to give respect to the blessing given by our church.
Share the Easter Joy!
Another Easter tradition my family keeps is to remember other people. First of all, we visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of family members gone to their own resurrection in Heaven.
We pray for them, or ask for their prayers if they have reached eternal joy. Also, I like to make extra bread or have extra food on hand to give to a friend or neighbor. You never know who might not know how to celebrate Easter, and by giving them something special to enjoy, it reminds them that Jesus loves them, and that He died for them too. Easter is for everyone, and is a great way to evangelize.
Easter traditions are different for each family, but for ours, we have learned that the most important tradition is to be together as a family, to thank Jesus for all He did, and to never forget that He saved us. In addition, we all do the Divine Mercy Novena together, and continue to celebrate Easter by planting a garden and flowers, and remembering that all life is from God.
Whatever you decide to do with your family, know that God’s greatest joys come when you are together, and remembering Him!