Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
My favorite day of the entire year is Pascha (which is what Eastern Orthodox Christians call Pascha). Like most Orthodox Christians that I know, just mentioning Pascha puts a big goofy grin on my face.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When I was a Protestant Christian, I loved Easter, too. The joy of the Resurrection is something that all Christians share and that shapes our entire lives. I just always wanted Eastern to last longer.
It seemed to me that Easter should be more than just a sunrise service and an egg hunt on one day of the year.
Then I became Orthodox.
And I realized that the Church, in its great wisdom, had always thought that the Resurrection was more than just a one day celebration. In fact, there is an entire 40 day Paschal season focused on the joy of Christ’s victory over death.
Over the past few years, my husband and I have found some simple ways that we can bring this Paschal joy into our family life–helping our children participate in this season of the Church.
7 Ways to Celebrate the Resurrection (For More Than Just a Day!)
1. Say and Sing “Christ is Risen”
On Pascha and over the entire Paschal period (until the Feast of the Ascension 40 days later), Orthodox Christians greet each other with “Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!” Teach your children this greeting and say it frequently to one another. In our house we always end each prayer (in the mornings, at mealtimes, and in the evenings) by joyfully shouting it. You can teach your children how to say “Christ is risen” and respond in various languages as a way of showing how diverse the Church is.
Families can also sing the hymn “Christ is risen” frequently. Sing it when waking the children up in the morning, after every prayer, in the car, and before bed. Fill your entire house with the joy of the Resurrection as you sing:
“Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
2. Learn “The Angel Cried”
Another fantastic hymn to teach the children during the Paschal season is “The Angel Cried.” We sing this hymn during our Evening Prayers each night for the 40 days following Pascha (and in the car and other random times because they love it so much!), and I am always amazed at how quickly the children pick it up. Even my two-year-old was singing along after a few days.
“The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!
Again I say: Rejoice! Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb.
With Himself He has raised all the dead! Rejoice, all you people!
Shine, Shine! O New Jerusalem!
The Glory of the Lord has shone on you.
Exalt now and be glad, O Zion.
Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of Your Son!”
You can listen to the hymn here.
3. Read the Resurrection Gospels
Read and reread the Resurrection Gospels often during the 40 day Paschal season. In the past we have read one Gospel each night during Bright Week (the week immediately after Pascha), and by the end of the week the children could almost quote it!
You could also read the Resurrection story in a children’s Bible, such as the beautiful Orthodox Children’s Illustrated Bible. This retelling may be simpler for younger children to understand, and the pictures will capture their attention.
4. Display the Resurrection Icon
Another simple yet powerful way to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord during the Paschal season is to prominently display the Resurrection icon in your home. Our family has one small bookshelf near our front door on which we place an icon for feast days. Thus, each time we enter or leave our house, we can see and venerate the icon.
I find that I need this little reminder in my daily life. It can be so easy to get caught up in the business that comes with the mundane beauty of doing laundry, going to work, wiping little noses, and preparing dinner. By making myself stop–even momentarily–before the icon of the Resurrection several times each day, the joy of Pascha is rekindled in my soul.
The blog A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons has a great article about the power and victory of the Resurrection Icon that you may want to check out.
5. Feast with Good Food
Pascha is preceded by the season of Lent–an intense period of fasting, prayers, and almsgiving. For nearly two months, Orthodox Christians have abstained from meat and dairy as we seek to cultivate a repentant heart and acquire the virtues of Christ.
But, on Pascha we fill baskets to the brim with all of the foods we have been fasting from! Most churches have big celebrations after the Paschal Liturgy (which is at midnight!). Meats, cheeses, wines, and more are shared as we remember that feasting is also part of the Christian life.
This feasting can continue after Pascha. During Bright Week (the week following Pascha), there is no fasting. So, enjoy delicious dinners! Let each child pick out a favorite meal to eat. Bake a cake. Fire up the grill. Order a pizza. Go out for Chinese food. Whatever signals “feasting” to your family! And remember to say “Christ is Risen!” and sing the hymn before you eat.
6. Read Children’s Books
You can also add some books about the Resurrection and the joy of Pascha to your family reading time during the Paschal season. Here are a few that I recommend:
The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson
Have you ever wondered why Orthodox Christians dye Easter eggs red? This charming children’s book shares the story behind the tradition. Children (and adults!) learn about St. Mary Magdalene, a Roman emperor, and a miracle that shows the power of the resurrection.
Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle
Catherine’s Pascha is a USA Best Books Award Finalist–an honor rarely bestowed upon an Orthodox book. This lovely book walks a child through Pascha–from baking on Saturday to the beautiful service and breaking the fast with church family.
Heaven Meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts by John Kosmas Skinas
A beautiful book that explains each of the twelve great feasts of the Church–including Pascha. With icons, hymns, Scriptures, and quotes from the Fathers, and traditions explained, your family will use this resource for years to come.
7. Fill the House with Flowers
Finally, I personally find great joy whenever I see fresh flowers around the house. That’s why I was so excited by Charlotte Riggle’s (author of Catherine’s Pascha) post about filling her house with flowers during the Paschal season. What a great idea!
This year I am planning on picking up some inexpensive bouquets each week at the grocery store, Trader Joe’s, or the farmer’s market to brighten our home as we celebrate our risen Lord.
If you would like to help your family celebrate this feast and the other feasts and fasts of the Church year, I have written my e-book, Seasons of the Faith just for you!
This 200 page e-book is designed to help you and your family celebrate the feasts and fasts of the Church year. You will learn:
- The story of each feast
- Simple, practical ways to celebrate the feast or fast as a family
- Fun learning activities designed for younger children
- Engaging age-appropriate learning activities for older children
- Tips for fasting with children
You can learn more about Seasons of the Faith here.
May the joy of the Resurrection fill you and your family this Paschal season! Christ is Risen!
How does your family celebrate the Resurrection?
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