What is the meaning of Holy Week and how can we explain it to children?
Holy Week, how to explain it to children
Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus: these are the events that mark the Holy Week. But how explain its meaning to children? Undoubtedly, Easter is not a holiday felt by the little ones, who may find it difficult to understand the truth meaning. And for this reason it is important that the family and parents create new and personal rites to tell the little ones what Easter is in simple words and using the stories of the Gospels and the many symbols related to Easter.
In this article
Explanation of the holy week
What is holy week? It is that period between Palm Sunday, in which we remember the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem acclaimed by the cheering crowd, and Easter Sunday when his Resurrection is celebrated. In these fateful days the betrayal by Judas, the Last Supper of Jesus and the Apostles, the betrayal of Judas, the way of the cross and his agony on the cross are consummated.
Holy Week, the most important days
As we said, Holy Week is the period, from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, which precedes Easter. On Easter Sunday the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ is remembered.
- The palm Sunday: it begins with Palm Sunday where the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is celebrated, when he was acclaimed by the crowd as the Messiah while the people waved palm trees as a sign of greeting and homage. On this day we go to the church for the traditional Mass and take a sprig of blessed olive tree. Bring the children to take their twig and have them keep it in their bedroom.
- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: in these days we remember the betrayal that Judas committed against Jesus for thirty denarii. With children you can do many Easter jobs.
- Holy thursday: on this day we celebrate the Last Supper that Jesus made with his apostles and the ritual of washing the feet. For children it is from the point of view of religious celebrations it is the most suggestive: take them to church.
- Good Friday: it is the day of the death of Jesus Christ. As on Ash Wednesday, the faithful from 14 years of age are invited to abstinence from meat (eggs and dairy products are allowed). Fasting is done as a sign of penance for the sins that Jesus came to atone in the Passion. On Good Friday the bells don’t ring. They play for the last time on the evening of Holy Thursday, and then return to play on Saturday.Processions and re-enactments of the Via Crucis take place throughout Italy: bring the children to see them.
- Holy Saturday: it is the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated in the mystery of his descent into hell after his death.
- Easter Sunday: Jesus rises and it is a day of great celebration!
The symbols of Easter for children
There is no time of year more rich in symbols than the Easter one. From the more “secular” ones such as rabbit or chocolate, to the more religious. And precisely through the symbols we can transmit to children the true meaning of Easter, which is the most important holiday for the Christian religion, because it celebrates the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Here are the most important symbols:
- the eggs: refer to the idea of rebirth
L’olive: in Jerusalem Jesus was greeted by a great feast and people waved olive branches, a symbol of peace
- the sprouts of wheat: in the Gospel of John Jesus himself says “In truth, in truth I tell you: if the grain of wheat that fell to the ground does not die, it remains alone; if it dies, it produces a lot of fruit ”. And preparing the saucers with wheat sprouts in the days preceding Holy Week is an important ritual precisely to symbolically experience the passage from the darkness of death to the light of life together with the children.
- the Dove: symbol of the Holy Spirit who resurrects Jesus and of peace
- the bells: after three days of silence and sadness at midnight on Holy Saturday the bells of all the churches in the world will begin to ring joyfully, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Palm Sunday explained to children
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. A feast day in which we remember the return of Jesus a Jerusalem, in the company of his friends. People celebrate and welcome him waving palm leaves and shouting: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace on earth and glory in the highest heaven ”. In all churches there are processions with blessed olive branches.
Talk to the children about the resurrection
The deepest and most authentic meaning of Resurrection of Jesus is related to wedding ring: through faith in Jesus everyone will be able to save themselves from death and live forever in the joy and grace of God, just as happened to Jesus. Do not be afraid to talk about concepts that are only apparently so abstract: children are capable of deep thoughts and feelings and are more able than us to see “beyond” the concreteness of life.