Easter can be the beginning of a lovely forty days leading up to the festival of Ascension.
In the days of Early Christianity, Easter was the most important festival of the year (and it still is in the Orthodox Church). Easter itself is actually more aligned with the cosmos than one might think. In “All Year Round”, the authors write: “There is no fixed date for Easter. It moves in the calendar between the middle of March and the middle of April, and the festivals of Lent, Ascension and Whitsun (Pentecost) move along. The moment of Easter arises when the four great rhythms which we use to order our lives meet as they run their course. When the sun has moved through a full year from one spring equinox to the next, then the monthly lunar cycle must be fulfilled with the sighting of the full moon. After that, the rhythm of the week must draw to a close. Finally, the moment which marks one day from the next- midnight- must have passed before the Easter Festival of Resurrection can truly be celebrated.
On Easter Day, there are several wonderful traditions one can consider. One would be to have your children deliver decorated eggs to your neighbors to celebrate the renewal of life; this suggestion is offered in the little pink book, “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”. Eggs are of course a symbol of new birth and in the creation myths of many cultures the egg plays a distinctive role. Eggs have also been found in graves from pre-Christian times. Red eggs are central to the Easter celebration in the Orthodox church and sometimes still left on the graves of people who have died in the country of Greece on Easter. Eggs are a symbol of resurrection for Christians. If one plants seeds in a bowl on the nature table to sprout in time for Easter, a red egg could be placed in this bowl to find on Easter morning!
Another suggestion offered in the Kindergarten book is to work with Easter with a verse regarding caterpillars and all the children go to “sleep” as the teacher comes around and tucks a silk around them and then they awake and use the silk as wings! I especially love that idea.
Another almost forgotten tradition is the one of the “Easter Tree”. In the past, it was a barren tree with four cross branches decorated with green and also eggs hanging on them in colors associated with the four elements (earth-purple; water-blue; air-yellow; fire-red). I actually like this idea for Easter baskets as well – can one include all four elements in the Easter basket?
There is also a custom of “Easter water” in some traditions. Children aged six and above can go and get water from a well or spring as their “Easter water”. Brigette Barz notes in “Festivals With Children” that, “We are dealing here not with magical actions (one can simply use the water for the house plants afterwards) but rather an experience of the holiness of the world woken through silence.”
In a separate article in this book, Barbara Klocek writes, “…if one is aware and awake, the forty days following Easter can be a time of healing and replenishing. This was the time when the Risen Christ walked upon the earth bestowing wisdom and blessings…..Can we create the time to witness this wondrous gift of forty days? To take the same walks everyday, or to observe one place at the same time each day will allow the senses to create a window for our soul to drink in this feast….The balance of the forty days of Lent is given in these forty days after Easter.”
“Festivals With Children” suggests an Easter tree be left up for the forty days with forty blown eggs as decoration; stories for the forty days could include The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, The Crystal Ball or The Two Brothers – all from the Brothers Grimm. Also suggested in this book is activities involving braiding, weaving, folding paper or working with clay. These activities have an underlying theme of transformation about them.
Many blessings on your celebrations,