Most of us deck out our homes during the Christmas season– garland, lights, trees, and gifts are common sights that help to let us know that the birth of the Christ child is near. In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, in our home we also try to have the sights of the Lenten season present to remind our children of that one special day, for afterall, without the fulfillment of Easter there would be no need for Christmas.
Just as in the days leading up to Advent and the Christmas season, come Ash Wednesday we decorate our family room mantel in the liturgical color of violet to help aid our children grasp the meaning of this time in the church year.
An old retired violet scarf from the wardrobe is draped across the mantel place and topped with an empty wooden cross. This is to help remind the children that it won’t be until Good Friday that the cross will be filled with the Savior.
Atop the scarf there are fourteen votive candles. On Fridays during Lent, our family prays the Stations of the Cross. Each candle, one for each station, will be lit prior to prayer, with one candle being blown out after praying each station, resulting in darkness by the end of the prayers. This simple action allows for meditation on the Passion of our Lord and helps the children to be fully engaged in the prayer.
Down below to the left are the bare willow branches of our Jesus Tree. Much like the Jesse Tree used during Advent which chronicles the lineage of Christ to his birth, the Jesus Tree is utilized during Lent to show the fulfillment of the prophets leading up to Christ’s death. Each night during Lent, our family will read the corresponding Bible passage before hanging that days ornament. This year our family will be using Melissa’s printable ornaments to adorn our tree. By the end of Lent our Jesus Tree will be full of all the wisdom of the ages as we await the Resurrection.
Just beside the Jesus Tree are two baskets. The first houses all of the books of our Lenten Book Basket. They are here for the children to pick out at will this year since there are not enough just yet to cover each of the 40 days of Lent. Hopefully by next year there will be!
The other basket houses all of the helps that accompany the season such as the purple cloth bag to bury Alleluia on Ash Wednesday, a rosary , and prayer cards.
It also houses a few play sets. My son is very tactile and loves to manipulate objects. I discovered this lovely little play set at the local craft store a few days ago and knew that it was just what he needed.
After coloring in the figures, he has been delighted in playing with it to act out the scenes of the Passion. (If you aren’t able to find such a set, Lacy has this little set free to print. I printed this set out, too, just for additional fun!)
Over to the right, atop the chest is the The Golden Children’s Bible from which we will read the Jesus Tree passage from in the evenings. Also set there is The Complete Chronicles of Narnia which will serve as our family read aloud for the Lent and Easter season. It is my hope, now that my daughter is older, that she will be able to pick up on all of the rich symbolism within the pages of the books. Our goal is to read the whole series from start to finish by the end of the 50 days of Easter on Pentecost Sunday!
Nesting on top of the books is our family’s traditional crown of thorns and sacrifice jar. The children, after completing a charitable deed are free to add either a bean to the jar or break off one of the thorns. Hopefully by Easter we will have a full jar and an empty crown!
So, there it all sits in the family room. A little stark and bare in comparison to our Christmas mantel, but I think it’s presence allows for the penitential tone of the Lenten season to shine through.
Looking for other ways to celebrate the Lenten season in your home? Take a look here for other ideas.
Do you decorate your home for the Lenten season? Please share as I am always looking for new ways to more fully engage my children!