What is Holy Week? How can we celebrate it as a family? Can Christians celebrate Passover? I have the answers for you in this post!
Holy Week has become a special tradition in our house and I’m breaking it down for you, step by step. Here is how it happened in the Bible and how you can celebrate Jesus each day with your family! This will deepen your faith and create beautiful family memories.
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What is Holy Week?
Holy Week lasts from Palm Sunday — when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey — until Easter Sunday when he rose from the grave.
See the printable above for what happened each day. Note, the Bible does not mention what happened on Wednesday. Saturday he was in the tomb.
Holy Week activities for each day
Here are some ideas for the whole family to celebrate Holy Week! You can do some or all of them. I’d love to hear your ideas and traditions in the comments as well!
You can find new pieces to Jesus’ story in each of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). For simplicity sake, I will be using Matthew in these printables. I encourage you to dig deeper into all the gospels though!
Click image for hi-res version.
If you don’t have a Bible, you can download the YouVersion Holy Bible. I usually read in NIV or ESV. It’s also wonderful to listen to the Bible as we all absorb information in different ways. (The narrator in the NIV translation is my favorite!)
For kids, the Jesus Storybook is wonderful. They are short, detailed stories that children love and connect with. The best part is that each story brings it back to Jesus, our great rescuer.
Easter celebrations day by day
Here are lots of links and resources to have a meaningful Holy week!
Bible: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowd welcomed him with “Hosanna!” as they laid down cloaks and palm branches.
Read: The story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:1–9).
Activity: You can sing “Hosanna,” hang a palm leaf on the door or make a palm craft. Kids can re-enact it.
- Check out my Easter Spotify playlist, above, featuring “Hosanna,” by Hillsong
- Here is my Palm Crafts Pinterest board with all kind of ideas!
FYI: Palms were symbols of Jewish nationalism. Waving them was a celebration of victory! They were acknowledging him as the messiah who had come to be king.
Bible: Jesus drove out those who sold and bought at the temple, overturning tables.
Read: About Jesus cleansing the Temple (Matt. 21:12-17). Kids can do a coloring page with verse to memorize (included).
Bible: Jesus went to the temple and told many parables.
Read: The parables and signs of the times (Matt. 21:18 to 25).
Activity: Kids can make their own Easter book, paint eggs or made a cross from sticks.
Bible: The Bible does not mention what Jesus did on this day. Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver.
Read: About the 10 plagues on Egypt and the Israelites’ exit of Egypt (Ex. 7-12).
Activity: You can prepare for a Passover meal for Thursday.
Make unleavened bread or Jewish recipes. Here are a wonderful selection of Passover Recipes by Chosen People Ministries.
Here is a simple recipe for unleavened bread to make with kids.
FYI: God commanded the Israelites to eat bread without yeast or leaven (Deut. 16) on Passover. It reminds us that the Israelites had to leave Egypt in a hurry, but it also has other symbolism. Yeast and fermentation is associated with corruption. Christ said the bread was his body broken for us. His body was without corruption or sin.
Thursday: Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, celebrated Passover and gave new meaning to the meal with the first communion. He prayed in the garden and was taken by Roman soldiers.
Read: About the last supper (Matt. 26:17–30).
- Wash feet and have communion.
- Host a Passover Seder dinner.
Passover Seder for beginners
Host a Passover meal! Passover is not a commandment to Christians as it was for Old Testament Jews. It is a free choice to celebrate Christ’s fulfillment of prophesy.
A Seder is a ceremonial Jewish dinner the first night or two of Passover.
The Haggadah is the script to follow.
Chosen People Ministries is a wonderful resource for Christians seeking Christ in the Passover!
- How to host a Passover Seder dinner
- Download your own Haggadah (script)
- See all the things on the Sedar table (interactive)
FYI: Jesus emphasized the third cup during his Passover meal with the disciples the night before his death. This is the cup of redemption. He was referring to this cup as he prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39) There is so much to be learned from attending a Passover Seder!
Bible: Jesus carried his cross to The Place of the Skull, was crucified and laid in a tomb.
Read: About the death of Jesus (Matt. 27).
Activity: Consider fasting and praying on Good Friday, especially between the hours of noon to 3 (Jesus’ last hours on the cross).
“Both the Old Testament and New Testament teach the value of fasting, which is abstaining from food or drink in order to focus on prayer and seeking God’s will. Through many examples of people in the Bible who fasted, we can know that God grants supernatural revelation and wisdom through this practice. Scripture tells us that fasting will help us grow a more intimate relationship with Christ and will open our eyes to what He wants to teach us.” — Bible Study Tools
There are no hard and fast rules about fasting — how long or from what. The only specific thing the Bible says is: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)
Fasting examples in the Bible are from food, but if you are not medically able or pregnant, you can fast from other things that would focus your attention to God.
Pray and choose in advance:
- What you will fast from?
- For how long?
- What is the purpose?
Digging deeper: We don’t live in Jesus’ time and we weren’t there mocking or tying him to the cross, but we still have the choice today to accept or reject him. Is he the king of your life?
Bible: Jesus was in the tomb.
Activity: Watch a movie portraying Jesus.
The last one, Matthew, is the entire book of Matthew, word for word! It’s older, but I LOVE the way Bruce Marchiano portrays Jesus. He is playful and serious and authoritative and loving — all of these things at the same time! The scene when he tells Judas to go from the Last Supper is quite moving. Jesus is crying and hugging him, he hates to let any of us go!
Bible: The rock at the tombs entrance was rolled back. An angel told the women Jesus was alive!
Read: About the resurrection (Matt. 28).
- Attend church service.
- Kids can find resurrection eggs with verses in them to learn the story (printable on blog).
Click image for hi-res version.
Have you ever heard of resurrection eggs? They’re a fun, interactive way to tell the Easter story to kids. The basic idea is that you number eggs (I used glitter stickers). Then you add a scripture (printable provided) and some items that represent that scripture inside the egg. Go on an egg hunt and take turns opening them to tell the Easter story. It’s fun to read the story in the Bible or children’s Bible first so that they can try to guess what the egg contents represent.
A word to the wise: Be very clear that there is no candy in the eggs before you even get them out. Haha!
What special traditions does your family have to celebrate Easter?
House of Palms
I’ve started a new Instagram account with faith-based topics! What does the Bible say about that? We’ll cover one topic each week. Let’s learn and grow together as sisters in Christ!