Holy Week in the Home
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
LinksHoly 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 at Home: Family Practices for the Triduum
Holy Week Art Project: Making Easter Flags
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
Good Friday Through the Eyes of a Child How to talk with children about Good Friday
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 Hom
Ordinary Time in the Home
Baptismal Anniversaries in the Home
Holy Week image available as a poster from REDBUBBLE.