Traditions play an important role in creating the unique fabric of our families.  Certainly, the things we celebrate, and the way we celebrate, weave together to create the cultural texture of our family, building memories that we reflect on for the rest of our lives.  When my children were very young, I began to think about what traditions would be worth including, especially around significant events on our calendar, such as Easter and Christmas. Easter was a challenge.  I am not one for bagging out the Easter Bunny (although many of the symbols used around Easter really don’t make sense to us in the Southern Hemisphere but do depict the new life we experience in Jesus), and anything that involves chocolate is worth including in my books! But trying to capture the incredible meaning behind Easter as a family tradition with small children – without overly traumatising them with scenes from the Passion – presented a challenge! So, I turned to the story in the Gospels for some inspiration, and what I discovered were some really significant events taking place over the Passover Feast in the lead up to Christ’s death and resurrection.  Things like feet-washing, the first Communion, conversations about Heaven and the Holy Spirit.  Big stuff.  And the rich symbolism of the Passover Feast as a prophetic analogy of what Jesus was about to do in shedding His blood so that the judgement of God would “pass over” us.  It was the stuff of dreams for theme-based entertaining.  And, so, our tradition of having Passover at Easter emerged. A traditional Jewish Passover involves the Seder meal with specific rituals and songs.  As musical as we were, we decided, for our family, to go back to the ancient story in Exodus and create our own traditions that were simpler and more kid friendly.  We started with a very basic meal of lamb and flatbread and tabouli as our ‘bitter herb’ (well, the kids thought it was disgusting back then) and read the story from Exodus 7-12.  We watched The Ten Commandments on DVD.  Each year we added something new: we even had an awesome Middle-Eastern style feast sitting on the floor. We invited a different family every year to celebrate – homage to embracing the ‘foreigner’.  The kids painted ‘blood’ on the doors, made lolly bags representing the 10 plagues, watched The Prince of Egypt, and drew murals of the story to hang on the walls.  The kids are grown now and don’t offer me their drawings anymore, but it has become one of our richest family traditions! So here is a detailed look at some of the things we have done for Passover: Decorations: Red paint on paper (or red crepe paper) cut to fit around the front door, coffee tables lined up down the middle of the rooms with cushions to sit on, dark red tablecloths and lots of candles!  Little vases of fragrant herbs that represent the “bitter herbs” eaten by the Israelites. Rustic serving dishes. Chocolate coins scattered all over the table (these are for the end of the meal and represent the spoils of Egypt that the Israelites took with them as they left Egypt for the Promised Land.  No-one is allowed to eat them until the end of the meal…a bit of practice in the delayed gratification department!) Meal: Lamb (lots of lamb….you cannot have enough lamb), yeast free flatbread, Assyrian rice (I got this recipe from my Assyrian girlfriend…contains lots of allspice, almonds, egg noodles, onions), chick pea/couscous salad (with roasted pumpkin and beetroot, mint and cumin seeds…drooling as I type), tabouli, hummus, sour cream (because my kids love sour cream with everything).  Basically, just use all your favourite Middle Eastern recipes to create a feast! Dessert: Sticky date pudding with custard (because dates are middle-eastern, right?), baklava (because that recipe is as old as time – I’m sure Jesus ate it – and, really, who needs an excuse to eat baklava?) Extras: Reading selected verses from the original text in Exodus (we got the older children to read a section each to involve them; 10 bowls of different lollies representing the 10 plagues (frog lollies are the easiest but then you have to get creative!) Children scoop lollies into brown paper bags as a “take-home” to remember the story (ok, the adults make one too when no-one is looking); watching the Prince of Egypt (it’s way shorter than The Ten Commandments but I watch that too while I’m doing all the food prep….who can get enough of Charlton Heston?); foot-washing of the guests (hilarious fun – I recommend a good peppermint foot scrub to go in the mix). After attending a Passover Feast at our Jewish friends’ home, we have added our version of a Seder plate.  The symbols represent the grief and sadness of slavery and oppression, but, because Jesus came to free us and heal us from all of that, we use sweet things to replace them.  We also take communion together, and sometimes do a brief devotion around that.  Whatever traditions you form as a family, start small, be flexible, let the kids play a part and make them meaningful.  When we make spiritual conversations a normal expression of celebration, we give our children the kind of vocabulary they need to talk about their own spirituality. Happy Easter, everyone!  Enjoy the greatest celebration of all – the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!