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The Journey of Holy Week - with Family...with Friends...with your Community

posted 10 Apr 2014, 23:26 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 10 Apr 2014, 23:27 ]

Holy Week is the period that runs from Palm Sunday to Easter Eve. For Christians, it is a time of reflection as we remember Jesus' last week before his death – the Last Supper, his betrayal, trial, death and resurrection. There are countless books about it, and lots of ideas available on the web. Here are a few ideas for exploring the feast days with family and friends.

The Stations of the Cross are suitable for use at any time in the week. Many churches hold the Stations of the Cross at this time, either at a specific moment or as a a drop-in, self-guided event. This is something that can also be done at home. Ideas for a family-orientated stations of the cross can be found on http://

A Holy Week trail can also be put together, which walks through the events of the week. This works equally well in house, church or garden. A different way to focus on these events may be using a scent trail.

Maundy Thursday probably derives its name from the Latin mandatum, meaning to command, based on Jesus' commandment that we love one another as he loves us. It is the day when we remember the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread and shared the wine with his disciples. We also remember our duty of service to others. We remember that Jesus was betrayed by one of his friends, abandoned by his disciples, tried and condemned to death. Many churches hold vigils or watch nights on this night.

One traditional food eaten on this day is rosemary buns. A recipe for these can be found in Vitz's book A Continual Feast. Some churches and families hold Passover meals or Seder nights on this day, remembering the Last Supper. This might be a tradition that you would like to begin in your family, church or community. For an example of a simplified Passover service, see Michelle Guinness' book 'A Little Kosher Seasoning', or the book by Kevin and Stephanie Parkes, Feast of Faith.. The Passover meal is rich with symbolism. As Christians, the ancient words are full of promise which we know has been fulfilled.

Watching and waiting – in some churches it is usual to hold a watch night or a vigil of some kind. You may want to spend some time doing this. If you have children, you might want to talk about a time when we have no choice but to wait.

Stripping the altar – an old tradition is that of removing candles, altar cloths and crosses from the church on Maundy Thursday evening, or covering up the crosses with dark material. This is a sign of our mourning and sorrow. If you have a space at home where you normally pray, or where there is a cross or crucifix, you may wish to follow this tradition.

Good Friday may stem from the words God's Friday. While it is a day of sorrow and mourning, it is also a day of great rejoicing – a day of solemn joy – as Christians remember that Christ gave himself on the cross for us.

The food associated with this day in the United Kingdom is hot cross buns. You can either make them or buy them. For many Christians, this day is a fast – most don't eat lunch, some don't eat breakfast or dinner either. An idea for a special Lenten tea can be found on a_second_lenten.html

3 hours at the cross – In many churches a vigil is held from 12-3 representing the hours that Jesus spent on the cross. It is customary to leave the church in silence afterwards. This is sometimes combined with a Good Friday procession or walk of witness, often as an ecumenical event.

Easter Garden – one craft for this day could be to make an Easter garden with your family or even on a larger scale in the church. These can be made on a small scale using an empty cardboard box as a base. The 'tomb' is usually closed until the Sunday morning, when it is opened and the hill is decorated with fresh spring flowers.

Easter Saturday is a day of waiting and preparation until darkness falls. In some churches the Easter celebrations begin with an Easter bonfire at sunset, representing the light of Christ coming into the world.  Today's food is traditionally very simple and plain. It's a day when we start to prepare for tomorrow's feast. Some foods which are traditionally made this day are Pascha and Paska. You can find more details on; and also on http://

Easter Story Cookies can be made, either at home, or possibly with an Easter Saturday club – you don't get to eat them until Easter Day. These are a kind of meringue with nuts in. The recipe can be found on the Fridge art pages of The recipe is accompanied by reading the various sections of the Easter story. Once everything is mixed, the cookies are placed in the oven (just turned off) and sealed in over-night. On Easter morning, the oven – the tomb is opened. And the cookies are hollow inside. These are great fun.

Rev’d Vittoria Hancock

Some Resources:

  • Batchelor, M., The Lion Easter Book, 1987, Lion Publishing Chapman, C., Celebrations Make & Do, 2004, brf
  • Hawse, A, Vinegar Boy, 1970, Moody Press
  • Parkes, K & S, Feast of Faith, 2000, Church House Publishing
  • Rayner, W., & Slade, A., Multi-Sensory Seasons, 2005, Scripture Union
  • The Wild Goose Worship Group, Stages on the Way, 1997, Wild Goose Publications Wallace, S, Multi-Sensory Church, 2002, Scripture Union
  • Wallace, S., Multi-Sensory Scripture, 2005, Scripture Union Vitz, E., A Continual Feast, 1985, Ignatius Press.