When you were growing up there were many reasons to be excited about the Holiday season. Whether it was the snow on the ground, the Christmas lights in the trees, or the giant Christmas tree in your living room it was always a beautiful sight. Another reason to love the season, starting on December 1st, is the Advent Calendar. What is an advent calendar? How do you use one?
An Advent Calendar is a way to count down to Christmas and add a little bit of fun to the whole process. The Advent Calendar is hollowed out with little doors on each day of the month, leading up to the 25th. Behind each door is a little treat for the person opening it. Fill up your Advent Calendar with little pieces of candy, stories, or gift cards and have a reason to celebrate every day of the Christmas season.
Advent Calendars are a ton of fun for children and a way to keep the Spirit alive for the adults!
Easter is a holiday for the entire family. There are tons of ways to celebrate Easter and many different families do it many different ways. However there is one thing that seems to unite all of these celebrations: the dying of Easter Eggs! Let's take a look at how to dye Easter Eggs and make it a fun time for your whole family.
1. Hard boil some eggs
The first thing that you need to do is hard boil some eggs. Get a pot of hot water boiling and toss your eggs in. When they are done take 'em out to cool.
2. Lay down some paper towels and be ready to get messy
Dying eggs is a messy business. Protect your counter and clothes by putting on an apron and laying down some paper towels. This is an integral step especially if children are involved!
3. Mix containers with water, vinegar, and your choice of food coloring
Now for the dye. Get a bunch of little bowls, or cups, and fill them with water, vinegar, and the color of dye you want to use. (You can buy Easter egg dye in stores.) Have multiple color options to keep things creative.
4. Now soak the eggs in the coloring
Using a spoon, or tongs, lower the eggs into the different colored containers. Keep them in there for up to 5 minutes at a time for a bright color and longer for a darker color.
5. Dry the eggs and wait
After you have colored as many eggs as you want you just have to set them aside to dry. This process can take a little while so set them back in their carton and push them out of the way. Handle them once dry.
Good Friday is most certainly not in remembrance of a 'good' event. The day was chosen to remember the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross, crucified, for our sins. So what can you do, as a good Christian, to celebrate this somber day?
Good Friday is not a day for celebration. It is a day for penance, contemplation, and gratitude for Christ the Redeemer. By attending your Church's special service and enjoying the fellowship therein, you'll be doing a great thing for your faith and your Lord.
Catholics also refrain from eating meat on Good Friday. As Paschales Solemnitatis wrote, "Good Friday is a day of penance."
The final way in which a good Christian will celebrate Good Friday is to go to Communion. Taking the bread and the wine that commemorates Christ's sacrifice is the ultimate way to remember what He did for us. Good Friday is somber and it isn't a celebration, but it is important all the same.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and Lent gives Christians an opportunity to spiritually prepare for Easter. The name of this holiday comes from the ritual of receiving a cross drawn from ashes on the forehead. When a religious leader draws the cross, he also recites a traditional phrase. This practice originated in the Catholic Church, and some other Christian denominations also practice it today.
Because of the importance of Ash Wednesday, churches get crowded. In fact, one church in Detroit started sending priests out to busy street corners to cater to people who might be too busy to make it to services or reluctant to brave the crowds. If you would rather experience this ritual in a traditional setting, you might still avoid large crowds if you can time it right.
Most churches offer a liturgy and ashes early in the morning, mass during the day, and then resume liturgy and ashes a few times in the evening. Some have liturgy and ashes scheduled all through the day. Your best choice might depend upon your own church's schedule, but typically the very early morning services, which might start at 6:30 A.M., are less crowded. The last service of the evening also presents a good opportunity to avoid crowds as most families attend earlier services.
Easter is the most religious holiday in the Christian religion. Many families choose to celebrate by taking part in the following traditions:
1. Attending Church
Enjoy the Easter service at your local Church. The sermon is usually one on rebirth, renewal and a clean slate. It is always an optimistic message that may deepen your faith.
2. Easter Egg Hunt
Many churches will put on an Easter egg hunt for the local children. Take part in this, another sponsored event, or even make your own. Fill plastic eggs with small candies or coins and hide them around your yard (or house). The kids will have a great time running around looking for them.
3. Spending Time with Family and Friends
Holidays are the time to be with family and friends. Whether you take this opportunity to get together with extended family, or you just take the day to spend quality time with the folks you live with, Easter is a great day to slow down and enjoy each other's company.
There's more to being a good Christian than memorizing a few passages in the Bible, and Lent means more than giving up chocolate or something you enjoy for 40 days just so you can go hunt eggs on Easter Sunday and get your fill of chocolate bunnies.
Awareness of the Lenten season and its purpose help strengthen your faith and connect you to everyone who honors Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.
Lent Over the Centuries
Christians in the first few centuries AD didn't observe Lent as we do today, and it developed into its modern arrangement over time, as Christianity spread around the world. For example, the pre-Lenten celebration of Mardi Gras traces its roots to a pagan festival held over a millennia ago. In English, the word "Lent" comes from the Old English word for spring.
The Practice of Fasting
Many Catholics today understand the Lenten fast as "just eating fish on Fridays," but Catholic bishops provide explicit direction on fasting. Under the "Code of Canon Law," Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are to abstain from meat on each Friday of Lent and a fast is required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Understanding the Meaning of Lent
Most Christians understand Lent as a time of self-sacrifice to honor Jesus' time on the Cross, and the 40 days are meant to mirror the time Jesus spent in prayer before starting his ministry. The Israelites also spent 40 days wandering the desert, and Moses spent 40 days with God on Mount Sinai.
Beyond giving up something like chocolate or meat, Christians should also do the following during Lent:
Don't think of Lent as simply a time to follow the rules and avoid meat on Fridays. Improve your relationship with the church and God through daily reflection, prayer, and thanksgiving.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|