Because we live in Japan, Easter is easy to forget. It’s not a holiday on the Japanese calendar and there are no bunny rabbits, Easter cards, or egg dying kits in the stores to remind us that it is coming up. It’s up to us to remember Easter and to figure out how to celebrate it as a family, since there are no expectations around us regarding how to celebrate. So, as a family we have come up with some of our own traditions for celebrating Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. One family favorite is our Resurrection Eggs kit. It’s a carton filled with a dozen colorful plastic Easter eggs. Inside the eggs are small items that remind us of the main events of the Easter story. For example, there is a rock inside one of the eggs to remind us of the stone that was placed in front of Jesus’ tomb. In another egg there is a small toy donkey to remind us of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and in another there is a small piece of white cloth to remind us of the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ body before it was placed in the tomb. Our tradition is to read the Easter story together and then open the appropriate eggs as we get to key points in the story. The kids look forward to taking turns opening each egg and remembering together what Easter is all about.
Another fun activity we enjoy is baking “resurrection rolls” together. Several years ago, I found a recipe for the dough, which I make in my bread machine. After the dough cycle has finished, we make a couple of dozen dough balls, which we flatten and then wrap around a marshmallow that has been dipped in melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. The marshmallow represents Jesus’ body and the butter, cinnamon, and sugar are the oil and spices that were used to annoint Jesus after his death. When the rolls are baked, they represent the tomb where Jesus was burried. When they have cooled, we cut off a small piece of bread from the side of the roll (or, just take a big bite!) The marshmallow has melted and the inside of the roll is hollow — giving us a picture of the empty tomb after Jesus rose from the dead. Austin, Ethan and Katie, absolutely LOVE making and eating these rolls and it is one of the highlights of Easter for them each year.
Our final tradition is to go to our small church to celebrate Easter on Sunday morning. This year we had a very family-friendly service, with Bryan and our co-worker Tomoaki preparing a Bible story, talk, and games that the kids could enjoy along with the adults. Then, after the service, the Takizawa family hauled out the candy-filled Easter eggs they had prepared and the adults took a few minutes to hide the eggs around the outside of the church building before the kids went on a wild and crazy Easter egg hunt. All in all, this year we enjoyed a great combination of fun and serious ways of celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.