Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Idea sharing: some of our past Lenten activities

Looking for some special ways to observe Lent with your family this year?  Here are some photos of things we've done in the past, along with information links...

Printable Stations of the Cross Cards (these match the images on the candles)

Hope these ideas inspire you!  What new traditions are you trying this Lent?

Don't forget to "bury the Alleluia!"

When I was a catechist in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) atrium, one of the childrens' favorite activities before Lent was to "bury the Alleluia."

We gave the kids 8" x 4" slips of paper with the word "Alleluia" printed on them, along with a variety of water color pencils and metallic pencils -- items not often available in the atrium -- and they were encouraged to decorate the word and make it look beautiful.

After decorating, we placed all of the alleluias in a large jar, which we then sealed.  If the weather was nice, we went outside and dug a hole, then literally buried the alleluias.  If the ground was frozen, we would cover the jar with a purple cloth then place the cloth and jar in a special place in the church near the tabernacle.  The buried Alleluias reappeared on Easter Sunday.

Although my kids have "aged out" of the  of the CGS program at our local atrium, they still ask if we can "bury the Alleluia."  So I came up with a way we could observe this practice at home. I painted some wooden letters and a box with gold paint. This is the result:

 I display the letters on Mardi Gras and leave them out overnight.  Then, on Ash Wednesday, we say "goodbye" to the Alleluia by singing a song or two with the word "Alleluia" in it while we carefully place the letters in our gold box.  I usually wrap the letters in white tissue paper but I ran across some cheesecloth in my craft supply, so think I will use that instead (to represent Jesus' burial cloth).

We then put the gold box away in a dark closet.  It will reappear on Easter Sunday on top of one of our cabinets...

Or near our tomb...

We then leave the Alleluia out for all of the Easter season.

Do you have a custom of "burying the Alleluia?"  If so, please tell us about it in the comment box below!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Tomorrow is "Pancake Tuesday!"

As I mentioned in a 2011 post, Shrove Tuesday (or Mardi Gras) is a big day around here.  However, we've renamed it "Pancake Tuesday."  It started when my kids were young. I was looking for an easy way to celebrate before we began the serious fasting of Lent.  After reading about Shrove Tuesday celebrations in  England and Ireland, then discovering that Russia (my daughter's birth country) celebrates Maslenitsa, I decided that we should have our own little pancake-themed celebration.

Even though my kids are now 11 and 14 years old, they really look forward to Pancake Tuesday.  They are even asking if they can skip their activities tomorrow night so we can celebrate.  (Tuesday's swim team  and basketball practices mean we won't be home until 9:45 p.m.  -- a bit late for a celebration.) 

In fact, it is one of the few times each year where we eat pancakes for supper.  But not just run-of-the-mill pancakes.  No, the kids are invited to create "pancake masterpieces" by decorating their hotcakes with a variety of toppings such as strawberries, blueberries, bananas, whipped cream, Nutella, chocolate chips, peanut butter, even colored sugars.  I usually scour the refrigerator, freezer and kitchen cupboards to find our "embellishments."  As I've shared with the kids, I'm following the "Fat Tuesday" custom of  using up food items that we will not be able to eat during Lent.  I display all these delectable items on the table. Here's a photo of our table last year:

(Our table included strawberries, marshmallows, peppermint candy pieces, nuts, applesauce, sprinkles, Nutella, cherries, a couple of different types of syrups, honey, peanut butter and two whipped creams.)

After dinner prayers, the kids are invited to decorate their pancakes.  Here are last year's creations. 
We had a chocolate/cherry and raspberry theme going last year.  In other years, our creations have included  "banana split pancakes" (with pineapples, bananas, cherries and chocolate), mint pancakes (with chocolate syrup and mint chips), tutti fruitti pancakes (fruits galore), and many other creations.  It's fun to see the kids' imaginations at work! 

After the decorating is finished, everyone casts their vote for the creation that looks the most delicious. The winner's name is added to our "World's Best Pancake Chef" plaque:

(I need an updated photo of our plaque, since we've been doing this for years and this photo only shows one winner!) 

The plaque proudly hangs in our kitchen. It's not only a conversation piece for visiting guests, but reminds us throughout the year of the fun we have on Pancake Tuesday!

How do you celebrate Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday?  Please share in the comments box below!