Very soon we will be celebrating the Feast of Feasts, Great and Holy Pascha! We have readied our hearts by fasting and praying. We have set aside time to attend and participate in preparatory church services. We have planned to cook special foods and to wear nice clothing for the feast. Pascha is a very special day, and because it is, we prepare accordingly.
But the Paschal season is longer than just one day. Yes, it begins on Great and Holy Pascha, but it continues on until Pentecost, and the whole season is a time of great celebration! We truly teach our students that this is the Feast of Feasts when we celebrate throughout the Paschal season, not just on Pascha itself.
So, how can we celebrate properly? What can we do to demonstrate to ourselves and to the children in our care just how important this feast is? Studying and applying the guidelines (about things like fasting, kneeling, The Hours, and a change in our prayers) for the Paschal season found here, http://www.antiochian.org/node/22733, can be a place to start. When we are familiar with the guidelines and some of the reasoning behind them, we can plan our continued celebration accordingly!
There are many ways to remind ourselves and the children about Christ’s triumph over death, and His glorious resurrection. Let us find ways to do so every day of the Paschal season! Even just small ways to celebrate this triumph will set this season apart from the rest of the year, allowing the Paschal season to be truly the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are some ideas of ways to set this season apart:
- Greet each other with, “Christ is risen!.” What a glorious way to begin each day, waking our own children (or greeting our students when we first see them) with that reminder!
- Learn many ways to say “Christ is risen!” in different languages, here: https://oca.org/orthodoxy/paschal-greetings.
- Sing the Paschal troparion every time you gather together for Sunday Church School.
- Listen to the Paschal troparion in many different languages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vofvMRYCg_c and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SynvdFT-rqU.
- Look at photos of Paschal celebrations around the world, here: http://shepherdsguild.org/id66.html. Talk about how the Orthodox Church is unified despite our differences in language and culture. Look for things that are the same as your home parish’s celebration of Pascha, regardless of where the photos come from.
- With older children, watch and discuss this video that discusses Pascha and some of what happens on that day: http://www.ancientfaith.com/video/sistervassa/pascha.
- Read the story of the resurrection, written in easy-to-understand language: http://dce.oca.org/assets/files/resources/47.pdf.
- Print this resurrection icon to color: http://dce.oca.org/assets/files/resources/142.pdf.
- Listen to this podcast about Pascha which looks at the Paschal icon and gives us a focus on what is important as we celebrate the Paschal season: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/raisingsaints/let_paschas_drama_unfold.
- Read Catherine’s Pascha by Charlotte Riggle. Follow it up with activities from the book’s website, http://www.catherinespascha.com/. There are so many activity ideas on the website! (See https://orthodoxchurchschoolteachers.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/gleanings-from-a-book-catherines-pascha-by-charlotte-riggle/ for more on the book.)
- Find printable coloring pages about the resurrection here: http://meaburrelareligion.blogspot.com/2012/03/historia-ilustrada-para-colorear-muerte.html
- Christ appears to Mary in this hidden pictures activity sheet: http://www.sundayschoolzone.com/activities/Jesus_is_Alive_Hidden_Pictures.pdf and in this spot-the-difference page: http://www.sundayschoolzone.com/activities/Jesus_is_Alive_Spot_the_Differences.pdf
- Solve this Jesus is risen find-the-words maze: http://www.sundayschoolzone.com/activities/jesus_has_risen_word_maze.pdf and another, here: http://www.sundayschoolzone.com/activities/Jesus_is_Alive_Word_Search.pdf
- Find printable coloring posters about the resurrection here: http://www.religiousdoodles.com/easter.html
- Lesson 5 (of this first grade level printable book) is on Pascha: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/folder.2012-03-22.9458973042/unit-7.pdf
- Lesson 7 (of this printable page for teens) is about the resurrection: http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/religioused/folder.2012-03-22.9458973042/cana_student_sheet_7.pdf
- Listen to a reading of “The Three Day Pascha” series, by Mother Melania, read by Dr. Chrissi Hart, here: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/grapevine/the_three_day_pascha_series.
- Listen to this podcast that focuses on how Christ’s light, given to us at Pascha, is for us to share with others: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/raisingsaints/the_light_of_pascha. Together, talk about ways to light your part of the world in all the days of the Paschal season, and beyond!
- Read The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Johnson.
- Read about why we color eggs at Pascha here: http://www.monasteryicons.com/info/easter_egg.hzml
The following (non-Orthodox) ideas related to the resurrection of Christ can also give you ideas of things to do with your class:
- Even nature can remind us of Christ’s conquering of death! Take a hike together, find a flowering dogwood tree, and talk about these symbols of Christ’s death that are demonstrated on the flower of the dogwood in this “legend:” http://www.catholicicing.com/the-legend-of-the-dogwood-a-religious-tradition-for-the-easter-season/. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that Christ’s death was important, but His breaking the power of death once and for all is even more important. What evidences of Christ’s resurrection can you find on the tree, as well? With your children, look for some of these and talk about them, too! (New growth from a tree that looked dead all winter; white blossoms to remind us of the light of Christ illuminating all; etc.)
- Plant a mini garden to remind you of the empty cross and empty tomb: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2013/03/mini-resurrection-garden-easter-craft.html.
- Bake rolls that represent the tomb of Christ. Stuffed with a marshmallow, each roll will come out of the oven EMPTY, as Christ’s tomb is since He has risen from the dead! http://www.leeanngtaylor.com/teach-kids-about-easter/#rrolls.
- Bake resurrection cookies (overnight), with scriptural references throughout the preparation process: http://www.kintera.org/atf/cf/%7B8E975F2E-4C1C-4315-AAFF-34A97EB367B5%7D/Resurrection_Cookies.pdf.
- Help your students make a set of storytelling eggs that tell the story of the last week of Christ’s life on earth, through his glorious resurrection: http://www.homeeducatormom.com/2013/02/16/make-your-own-resurrection-eggs/.