The Easter Tree: Bringing the Stories of Jesus Into Your Easter Holiday
Our little family has an Easter tree, with small wooden eggs, bunnies, and chicks. It’s darling, but it’s never really had any deeper meaning. After hanging up all the ornaments one year I just felt like, what if I incorporated something more meaningful since I'm already doing this with my kids?! That same week I found a talk entitled, "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" by Neil L. Andersen, that hit me like a ton of bricks. (Find the whole talk here—it’s the perfect talk for Easter!)
From Elder Andersen’s talk:
“Are the life and teachings of Jesus Christ embedded in the minds and souls of our children?...Do they think about His humble birth, the Savior of the world lying in a manger? Do His circumstances help them better understand the proper place of material possessions?...Do His prayers of thankfulness and His pleadings to His Father flow through our children’s minds as they kneel in prayer with their own concerns? Have we told them of the love Jesus has for children, how He held them in His arms, prayed for them, and wept? In their own loneliness, do our children know the loneliness the Savior felt as His friends deserted Him and as He asked His Apostles, ‘Will ye also go away? Have our children felt the power of the Savior’s miracles? Jesus healed the leper, gave sight to the blind. He fed the 5,000, calmed the sea, and raised Lazarus from the dead. Do our children believe that ‘it is by faith that miracles are wrought,’ and do they pray for miracles in their own lives?”
As I read the talk my heart just burned in me. I want my children to know Christ! I want them to know that they can rely on Him. I want them to know where to turn to find the peace, strength and confidence that only He gives. While I try to tell stories of the Savior’s life throughout the year, there is certainly no better time than Easter! So for our Easter traditions I decided to incorporate the stories of the Savior’s life right into our Easter tree.
Here’s how we do it. A few weeks before Easter we get out our tree and decorate it with our traditional ornaments, but then the week before Easter it changes into something special.
Starting with the Monday before Easter we pick a theme related to the Savior for each day leading up until Easter. In the evening we tell our kids that there’s a special Easter egg hidden somewhere in the house. In the egg there's an ornament, along with an accompanying scripture. We also try to hide a little treat inside the egg, so that the kids can come back and sit and eat the treat while we read the scripture and then discuss a little, sometimes telling the story that goes along with the verse, asking questions, or bearing our testimonies about the Savior. The real purpose of all of it is to simply spend a little time each day focusing on a specific story from the life of Christ.
Here’s a breakdown of our themes and some ornaments we’re using this year (The great thing is so many of the ornaments are easy to snag from Christmas decorations! I've listed a few here so you can be creative with what you have!):
Theme: The Savior’s birth
Ornaments: peace sign (Prince of Peace), star (the new star that shone), manger or straw (for His humble birth), shepherd, angel
Theme: Symbols that represent the Savior
Ornaments: lambs, king, vine, bread, water, shepherd, rock, light
Theme: Stories from the Savior’s life
Ornaments: fish (for feeding the 5,000 or calling His disciples), seashell (for calming the sea), bandaids (healing the sick)
For Thursday and Friday I focus on what happened in the Savior’s last week on those same days.
Theme: The Last Supper, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane
Ornaments: coins, branches from our garden, or a small cup
Theme: Christ’s trial, crucifixion, and burial
Ornaments: nail, thorns, cross, rock
Ornament: Heart shaped ornament, small wrapped gift
NOTE: This is my favorite day! For this night we read John 3:16 and talk about the gift that God gave us in His Son, and then John 15:13, and talk about the Savior’s gift of His life and resurrection. We talk about what these gifts mean, and how grateful we are for them. We then exchange any gifts we have for each other (usually very minimal at our place!), but then do something really special that I did in my home growing up typically at Christmas. We each take a piece of paper and write down what our gift will be to Heavenly Father and His Son. It may be something small that we do that same week, or a goal that may take the entire year! We then tie a ribbon around the gifts and keep them in a safe place to be stored with the Easter Tree ornaments until the following year. Bringing them out the next year is kind of like a time capsule, seeing how much we’ve grown and changed in the gifts we give the Savior!
Theme: The Resurrection
Ornament: This is the only day the egg is empty! We talk about what the resurrection means, and how grateful we are to know that “He is Risen!”
I have included a download below of word strips to use for some of the most common ornaments, and their accompanying scriptures.
As you can see, this tradition makes it easy to be flexible with what stories and symbols you share. Feel free to incorporate Bible videos (I love this website for great videos) or songs each night, too. The real purpose is to simply spend time—no matter how small—each day focused on the Savior. My hope is that as my kids grow, the tradition will grow with us too. Perhaps they can pick out their own ornaments and have us guess how it fits in, tell the stories themselves, or even plan activities and small projects around the theme!
I am so grateful for what the Savior means to me, and to have this time of year to celebrate Him. He’s been my rock through so many stages of my life, my friend when there’s been no one else I can turn to, and my strength when I have none left. I know He lives. I’m so grateful for Him, and that because of Him I can live with my little family forever.
What are your plans for this upcoming week? I would love to hear what you do to make Easter special! Feel free to tag us on Instagram at #traditionsoffaith or #thesmallseed to show us your Traditions of Faith!