Holy Week in the Home

Ash Cross
Wooden cross
Simple wooden cross takes the place of other decorations

Holy Week begins with Palm/Passion Sunday and continues through the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is the most solemn and holy time of the year.


This is the time that traces in detail all the events that led to Jesus' betrayal, suffering, death and burial.

Holy Week


The mood is one of trembling awe, humility and remembrance. It begins in the joy of Jesus entry into Jerusalem to happy cries of "Hosanna" and "Hail to the King" and moves through the week to the cross.


Palms, of course, are symbols for the entry into Jerusalem. Sometimes you see roosters, foreshadowing Peter's denial. The cross, however, is the primary symbol, along with emptiness and a lack of ornamentation. Directions to make palm crosses.

Palms with cat
Palms at home
Hot Cross Bun
Hot Cross Bun


Hot cross buns are really a Good Friday food, not the general Lenten food we seem to see today. During the Middle Ages in England hot cross buns were distributed to the poor on Good Friday (other breads were distributed on other special days, too). The cross is a reminder of the cross. So, you may want to save hot cross buns for Good Friday. Serve them with milk for a simple Good Friday supper—a day that traditionally was marked by fasting. Recipe

Worship Leaflets

You will want to participate as much as possible in Holy Week services at your church—both Palm/Passion Sunday and the weekday services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. One way to help children grow into these solemn liturgies is to observe a week-long Tenebrae at home. Whether or not your church has a Tenebrae Service, such a home liturgy will help children learn and experience the story. There is greater immediacy and intimacy when the candles are right in the center of the family table. Tenebrae is a service of shadows and growing darkness as it becomes apparent that events are leading inexorably towards the cross.

You will need seven candles and a candle snuffer. Light all the candles the first night. Scripture readings are listed, with one short portion italicized; when it is read, or after the reading, snuff one candle furthest from the center. The next night light all the candles except that one. After the reading, snuff the candle on the opposite side. Each night, snuff one more candle, alternating sides, until only the center candle is still lit. That last candle is not snuffed on Saturday as it represents the light of Christ that is never completely put out.

Tenebrae candles
Candles for Tenebrae
Tenebrae candles
Holy Week Tenebrae PDF

PDF file for a Holy Week, week-long Tenebrae family worship leaflet has just a bit to sing, read and pray. If the readings for Thursday or Friday seem long, shorten carefully.

Each day begins with the opening Agnus Dei, then read the scripture passage, snuff a candle, pray and end with the closing song—it is the same each day except Friday.

Print on heavy stock and you'll have reusable leaflets that may simply be pulled out to be used year after year. Covers may be decorated by the children.

Reading should be done by both adults and children; it is important to involve everyone at an appropriate level.

Make Palm Crosses with PDF to print
Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday

Tips for Starting Church Year Celebration in the Home


What Does This Day Mean? Palm Sunday at Home from Building Faith

HOLY WEEK as a whole
Holy Week, the Cross, and Children—How to Prepare 
Helpful ways to talk about Jesus' death with children, emphasizing love and goodness over pain and suffering—I still recommend The Bunny Who Found Easter for preschoolers, a story with truths that never need be outgrown
Holy Week Art Project: Making Easter Flags
Holy Week at Home: Family Practices for the Triduum 
Holy Week in a Box use simple objects to tell the stories of Holy Week, with links for more helpful info

Maundy Thursday at Home: Stripping the table ideas for stripping your home—could simplify, if you've been using your table as seasonal focus just strip the table
What Does This Day Mean? Maundy Thursday at Home from Building Faith
Maundy Thursday Family Worship from Building Faith
Holy Week Family Worship: Outline for Maundy Thursday & Good Friday from Building Faith

What Does This Day Mean? Good Friday at Home from Building Faith
Good Friday Through the Eyes of a Child How to talk with children about Good Friday
Good Friday Family Worship from Building Faith

Church Year Resource Books 

Advent in the Home
Christmas in the Home—All Twelve Days
Epiphany in the Home 
Lent in the Home
Holy Week in the Home
Easter in the Home
Ascension Day in the Home 
Pentecost in the Home 
Trinity Sunday in the Home
Ordinary Time in the Home
Baptismal Anniversaries in the Home 
Valentine's Day in the Home

Holy Week image available as a poster from REDBUBBLE.

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