Tuesday 20 March 2012

Explaining Easter to very young children

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Something which happened the other day made me think of what the concept of Easter meant to me as a very young child.

Part of my job involves writing content and articles for a company which makes arts and crafts for young kids. There is a definite seasonal element to the crafts so each March I find myself writing a lot of Easter-related content; often about bunny rabbits and chicks and other colourful Easter symbols which are great fun for young hands to make.

Which is what I found myself doing last weekend when my five-year-old nephew Charlie wandered into my study. He asked what I was doing and when I told him he had another question.
“What exactly is Easter?”

A year ago Charlie would never have used the word ‘exactly’.

And a year ago he might have been fobbed off with an answer about bunny rabbits and chicks and chocolate eggs and all the things Easter isn’t really about.

The question brought back memories of Easter at the Church of England primary school I attended. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a practising Christian but I have vivid memories of listening to Bible stories in the classroom. And yet my early childhood memories of listening to Easter stories about the events of Good Friday are non-existent.

This is in stark contrast to my recall of first learning the story of Christmas; finding out all about Jesus and Mary trying to find room in the inn, the shepherds being visited by an angel, the wise men following a star and bringing magnificent presents to a humble stable.

Christmas is about birth (children seem to love the story of a new-born baby) while Easter is about re-birth (a concept which is understandably far harder for very young kids to grasp).

I probably didn’t fully grasp the concept of re-birth when I first learned about Easter but I do remember being told about how Mary Magdalene found that Jesus’s tomb was empty and mistook the risen Christ for being a gardener when He spoke to her. And I do remember feeling very relieved to learn that Jesus, despite the efforts of the Romans, was still alive.

And so when Charlie asked: “What is Easter all about?” I told him it was about celebrating how Jesus’s friends had thought they would never see Him again and how pleased they were to see Him once more.

Was this the right answer to give to a very young child? Answers on a postcard please.

In the meantime, Charlie has expressed an interest in going to Sunday School. I’m sure that the teachers there would give him a better idea of what Easter is about than I could!

James Christie writes for Baker Ross.

Baker Ross stocks a comprehensive range of Christianity and Easter Crafts which are ideal for artistic young children