Easter is fast approaching.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, it also happens to be the first major holiday celebrated in quarantine. So whether you’re mourning the loss of a long-standing family tradition OR you’re secretly excited that you don’t have to press your khakis and shove your daughter into a ruffled dress, here are nine tips for having a meaningful (and FUN) Easter dinner.
I come from a family that had very little in the way of Easter traditions. Christmas and Thanksgiving were scripted down to the minute. But Easter, nothing. So, last year I decided to create my own tradition to emphasize the power of what it’s all about. Easter is amazing for a bunch of reasons, but one of the most profound things to me is that it both happens around the Jewish festival of Passover and is the fulfillment of the Passover story. You may wonder why that matters if you’re not Jewish but stick with me. The Passover meal is called a Seder. It’s a profound, engaging way for Jews to talk about their history (which also happens to be our Christian history), recount stories of God’s goodness, and train the kiddos on what it all means and why it’s important. I took the following cues from the Seder meal and adapted them for our family. We called it a Feder (fake Seder—because we’re missing a lot of major elements), and the kids loved it. You can go as deep as you want in telling the biblical story, but below are a couple of the key points that made it fantastic.
BEFORE THE MEAL
#1 Break out the fine china.
Whether you think of it this way or not, Easter is (should be) a HUGE celebration. It’s literally the foundation of the Christian faith. Jesus died FOR US, so we never have to fear death. If anything has ever been worth celebrating, it’s this.
So, go for it! Get out the plates you never use. Use the fancy wine glasses. Even let the kids use them. That gravy boat and wine decanter collecting dust—dust them off. Cut some spring flowers for a centerpiece. Make an event of setting the table. Heck, break out the Christmas lights and drape them all over the dining room. Anything to make the space memorable and special.
#2 Get a bunch of wine.
News flash, Jesus was Jewish. What we call “The Last Supper” (Luke 22:14-20) was Jesus celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover with his buddies. And the Passover calls for wine. So, if you like wine, consider splurging on a few nice bottles. If you’re not into wine, get a beverage that you associate with “party”. That could be Coors Light or Diet Mountain Dew, just make sure you have plenty of it. Oh, and make sure the kids have plenty of drinks they love as well. Mine prefer sparkling cider and Cheerwine.
#3 Grab a few special food items to help tell the Easter Story.
I’ll give more details on these in a minute, but you’re going to want the following items handy:
- Some good bread
- A hardboiled egg (it could even be dyed)
#4 Make (or order) a dinner that everyone in the house will be EXCITED to eat.
I’ll say it again—Easter is a celebration. Decide ahead of time what meal sounds amazing for the entire family and plan on having that. It could be filet mignon, homemade moo goo gai pan, or a Papa John’s meat-lovers. Just make sure it sparks joy.
DURING THE MEAL
#5 Raise your first glass of wine and make a toast.
The first glass of wine helps us remember that God is good and gives us rest. The book of James in the Bible puts it this way: 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…”
So, as a simple way to thank God, have everyone at the table go around and say at least one thing they are thankful for. This shouldn’t be some somber religious ritual. This should be joy-filled stories of good things that have happened in the past year. (If you can’t think of anything good, at least thank Him for that meat-lovers pizza you’re about to destroy.)
#6 Start eating and break out the parsley and horseradish.
As everyone digs into the delicious food, remind the table of the story of the Jewish people being rescued by God from Egyptian slavery. (Basically, the story of the book of Exodus, or Dreamworks animated The Prince of Egypt. Watch it even while you get things ready.) If you’re not familiar or need a refresher, here are the Cliffs Notes: Israel was in slavery to Egypt. Moses told Pharoah to let them go. He didn’t. God sent 10 plagues to remind Pharoah who was boss. Pharoah let them go but changed his mind. God used Moses to part the Red Sea. The Israelites got through, and the Egyptians didn’t. Israel spent some hard time in the desert. Israel entered the Promised Land. Boom.
Pass around the parsley, a little cup of salt water, and the horseradish. Have each person dip the parsley in the saltwater and take a bite. Then have them take a tiny taste of horseradish. Both of these are meant to be a physical reminder that sometimes life is hard to swallow. Have each person share with the table something about the past year that has been hard. Even though this will be less joy-filled, it’s important to remember that God is with us, even in the hard times.
#7 Break some bread.
Jesus broke bread and told his followers to never forget his sacrifice (Luke 22:19). In church, this is usually called “Taking Communion,” but don’t worry—you’re allowed to do it in the comfort of your home (that’s great, actually). So rip a few pieces of bread and remind the table that Jesus is the reason for the season. He died so that we can have a renewed close relationship with God. Good news!
#8 Pass around the hardboiled egg.
We already associate eggs with Easter, so we might as well make them meaningful. Here are a couple of ways to spin it for a simple teaching moment during dinner:
- Eggs represent the Trinity. They are 3 in 1 (shell, yolk, white). Cool.
- Eggs represent a promise of something to come. The egg is not a chicken, but it represents a future that we can’t see. That’s similar to the idea of heaven, a future promise to be a new creation with God.
- Eggs, devilled, are amazing. Not a teaching point, just truth.
#9 Have one final glass of wine.
For Jesus, this third glass was the communion wine (Luke 22:20). A reminder that He has promised to work in us and through us. Sip the final glass of wine and tell a few more stories of anything you’re looking forward to about the next year. And remember, God will be with you.
I hope that these tips might inspire you to dive into the Easter season and story with a new energy. It’s the story of a God who literally came to earth to rescue his people from fear and striving. And it’s the perfect opportunity for an amazing dinner filled with stories of his goodness. Have fun. Cheers!