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How to celebrate Holy Week with little kids


Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/01/23

It’s all about deciding what traditions make the most sense for your young family right now.

Holy Week can be a tricky time of year if you have little kids.

There are so many beautiful and wondrous liturgical events happening this week. There are palms on Palm Sunday, foot washing and Seven Churches on Holy Thursday, and the once-a-year glory of Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.

But many of these sacred events happen late in the evening, well after your children need to go to bed. You know they are going to struggle if you take them to a long service after bedtime. 

And even the ones that aren’t after bedtime aren’t exactly kid-friendly. We all know what happens when we give kids light sabers, I mean palms, during an extra-long liturgy.

So let’s say you’ve got little kids at home and you want to live the liturgical year fully. What can you do to honor Holy Week with your tiny crew?

1Accept this season of life

The first step is just to make peace with the fact that you might not be able to do everything you want to.

When my oldest kids were little, I didn’t want to miss out on any of the Holy Week events I loved. So I dragged my baby and toddler around to seven churches on Holy Thursday. 

Shockingly, they didn’t enjoy being put in and out of the car over and over for two hours past their bedtime. They were miserable, and pretty soon, so was I. 

Before I had kids, I loved going to all these things. Right now, I have to accept that it’s not practical in this season of life. 

It’s OK. This season will end. It’s a short blip of time in the context of my whole life. I want to spend this time grateful for the blessings of this season, instead of bummed at what this season doesn’t permit.

And a few years from now, when the kids are older and I’m able to go to all the Holy Week things, I suspect I will appreciate them so much more.

2Choose devotions that matter to you and are doable for you

Accepting this season of life does not mean you can’t have a meaningful Holy Week! The key is thinking through what makes sense for your family. We all have different energy levels and different things that sound doable to us!

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here, so let me direct you to the wonderfully well-thought-out ideas for liturgical living during Holy Week over at Catholic All Year, Catholic Icing, and Lazy Liturgical

These are a few of the ways you could possibly celebrate Holy Week…

  • Bake Lenten pretzels
  • Spring clean your house
  • Hold a scavenger hunt for coins on “Spy Wednesday”
  • Make Holy Week handprints
  • Put together Resurrection eggs
  • Make a Rice Krispies lamb cake
  • Watch The Prince of Egypt
  • Wash each other’s feet on Holy Thursday
  • Visit seven churches during the day on Holy Thursday
  • Make hot cross buns on Good Friday
  • Pray the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday
  • Dye Easter eggs on Holy Saturday
  • Make chocolate babka on Holy Saturday for Easter brunch

You might do all or just pick out some of these things. Personally, I will probably choose spring cleaning and Stations of the Cross, plus one baking project. It’s all about deciding what makes the most sense for your family right now.

The one thing I know for sure is that we will head to Mass on Easter Sunday. The kids will make their joyful noises unto the Lord, and we’ll bask in the glory of the Resurrection, the linchpin of our entire faith. Can’t wait to see you there!

ChildrenHoly WeekParenting
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