I had very fond childhood memories of how we spent Holy Week as a family. I remember buying palaspas on Palm Sunday outside the church, visiting different churches for Visita Iglesia, seeing male members of our community (including my own dad and brother) dressing up as apostles and having their feet washed, attending the Good Friday procession and being one of the angels during the Easter Sunday salubong. While more people these days see the Holy Week as a chance to take a break from work and schedule that much-awaited beach trip, it is good to see many families still passing on not just the traditions, but also the story and significance of Holy Week (or Lent in general) to their children. Here are some ways you can help your children understand Holy Week better.
Create a Holy Week Calendar
Draw, design and cut out a simple calendar for Holy Week, the same way that you might have done also to count down the days before Christmas. This time around, it will be a countdown to Easter Sunday. Start with Palm Sunday and draw (or print and cut out) what happened on each day of the week, while explaining the significance of each. You can talk about each day as it comes, explaining the suffering of Jesus while looking forward to His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Involve your Child in Church Activities
Every Parish has a list of activities lined up for the Holy Week. Make sure to get a copy and check which ones you think your child can participate in. For example, if the Good Friday procession would be too long and tiring for your child, you can simply watch by the sidelines or follow with a car and use this as an opportunity to teach him about the different characters in the story of Jesus’ passion.
Children love stories. If you have a children’s bible at home, look for the relevant stories and read them out to your child. You can also follow this through with activities like creating crafts or asking him to draw his favorite part or write a thank you letter or a prayer to Jesus. You can also download and print this Holy Week Story and ask your child to color it.
Focus on the Values
While teaching your child about the different events that transpired during the Lord’s time, you can reinforce this by focusing on the values of each story and relating it to present life. For example, you can relate the story of Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus, to a similar story or experience of people who help each other. It is a chance also to point out specific behaviors of your child that you’d like to either commend or correct. For example, you can say something like, “Remember that time you helped your classmate when his lunch bag fell and his food spilled all over? You are like Simon, who helped Jesus carry his cross.”