As Catholics, we know there’s a lot more to Easter than plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies and grass-lined baskets.
The discovery of an empty tomb on Easter Sunday celebrates the greatest moment of our faith, so it’s understandable that we may feel giddy, much like our kids soaring on a sugar high after scarfing down too many marshmallow chicks.
I’ve given up trying to fight the saccharine, secular side of Easter. It will always matter as long as they have Easter baskets. Instead, I look for simple, fun ways to help my kids find a connection with their faith.
Easy-to-make recipes often provide that segue, and as my children get older they like doing their own thing to celebrate the holiday. Here are a couple age-appropriate recipes that offer parents the chance to talk about the mystery of the resurrection and what it means for us, even 2,000 years later.
I love this recipe because the first time you make them, it really is a surprise for the kids, much like what Mary Magdalene and the other women must have felt seeing the rock rolled away and the empty tomb.
Here’s what you need:
¼ cup melted butter
4 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, mixed together in a small bowl
1 package of 8 refrigerated crescent rolls
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Dip the marshmallows in the melted butter, then dredge them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place a marshmallow in the middle of the crescent roll and then fold the other sides to cover it.
(There isn’t much of a science to this, only to make sure the marshmallow is folded up well.)
Bake in the oven, according to the package. Once they’re done, the fun begins. When the rolls are still warm, have your kids try one — and be sure to capture their surprise at finding the marshmallow gone, with only the sweet cinnamon sugar remaining inside the roll.
The lesson here is obvious even for the littlest ones. The roll is the tomb, but it’s now empty. The marshmallow, like Jesus, is gone. (If you have a skeptic in the crowd, the cinnamon, sugar and butter represent the oils and perfume used to dress the body for burial.)
Doughnut Tomb Treats
Like the Resurrection Rolls, these Tomb Treats are intended to offer a stepping-off point for talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Keeping the activity simple provides more time for talking.
Here’s what you need:
8 graham crackers
½ cup peanut butter or frosting (A dollop of green dye in vanilla frosting works great.)
8 chocolate doughnuts
8 doughnut holes or tiny cookies
Kids can handle the construction of these treats themselves. Take a graham cracker and spread it with a layer of peanut butter or frosting. Cut the doughnuts in half. (If you are using mini doughnuts, keep them whole.)
Place the doughnut on the frosted graham cracker. Stick the doughnut hole or tiny cookie in front of the doughnut so it looks like a rock in front of the doughnut.
If your kids are feeling particularly fancy, they can write their own Easter messages above the tomb, using a toothpick and a piece of paper. “Alleluia,” “He is risen!” or even “Happy Easter” are good ideas.
The last craft isn’t edible, but it does involve beans. The Easter Vigil Mass is one of my favorites because I love seeing the church transition from darkness into light. (Unfortunately, I’ve learned that three kids plus a three-hour liturgy Saturday night equals a disaster on Easter morning.)
You can replicate this feeling at home with your family by making your own vigil votives using mason jars, dried beans and a small tea candle. Make as many as you can and place them in a space where your family can be together.
As the darkness of Holy Saturday settles in, reflect on what it truly means for Jesus to be the light of the world. Light the candles and let your space reflect the glowing love of Christ.
Bothum is a freelance writer and a mother of three.