Back in the summer, while everyone else wasn’t even planning for Christmas, I started work on the Easter Countdown Calendar for 2022. I wanted to make it available in December (just made it!).
Compared to the Advent Calendar, the Easter one is much more complicated to make, especially to make it simple to use!
For Christmas, I just include the whole Christmas story from Matthew and Luke. There’s a bit of work cutting the story into similar size sections for each day, and inter-weaving the narratives from Matthew and Luke which hardly overlap at all!
The Easter story is a lot longer in the Bible, and reading the Easter story for seven weeks would not work for many families. And I really wanted the story to start where the Advent calendar left off and take readers all the way up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. (I’d LOVE to have a way to walk through the resurrection stories and right up to Pentecost, but that’s for a different time!)
Many churches focus on Easter for the week before Easter, often celebrating the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday and moving through what’s known of the events running up to Jesus’ death during that week. This is where I started. I chose to use a different gospel this year, to give us a different ‘voice’. Last year the calendar used passages from Luke so this year we’re using Mark’s gospel. Even using this much shorter story (Mark is only 16 chapters), it involves making tough choices about what to leave in the Holy Week section – and I hope that families who are familiar with the story will read it from their own Bibles, adding in story elements that there isn’t space to include in the mini-storybook.
I then worked on the first few stories, taking them from Mark 1, continuing the story of the birth of John the Baptist we had in the Advent Calendar by reading about his life and work in the desert. This smoothly introduces Jesus when he is baptised by John. The first week of Lent is also shorter than the others as it starts on Ash Wednesday, giving us only 4 days before the first Sunday.
Oh, the Sundays!
Traditionally Lent doesn’t include Sundays, as they are celebration days. You’ll see this if you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. And now you’ll be scoffing chocolate or using Facebook or whatever you’ve given up for Lent all day Sundays LOL!
I’ve included 40 stickers, one for each day in Lent (not including Sundays!) and as you add to each one to the calendar, they tell the story, as per the story in the mini-book, which is also packaged into little sections for each day.
This year the stickers are 50% larger and fill an A4 sheet (instead of an A5 one last year) AND there are FOUR extra stickers for Easter Sunday, which I’m hoping will help give an extra bit of momentum to get through to the day!
Because there are no stickers or stories to read on Sunday, I’ve suggested you can use it as a day to catch up (we always get ‘behind!) and to reflect on the story. I’ve given some ‘I wonder’ questions to make this easy.
I’ve included stories from Mark’s gospel, including some teaching, some healing, a miracle (walking on water), something including children and a story featuring a women’s relationship with Jesus, as these can get missed out easily and if nothing else, my girls (age 9 and 10) will definitely notice!
Once the stories were all decided on, I sent the list to Catherine Pape who planned out where each story would fit then went about creating the gorgeous artwork you can see, included in the mini-book.
The last element I made was the Sticker guide postcard. The stickers are numbers and they match the numbered boxes on the calendar, but I know it can get a bit confusing, especially if you, like us, miss a few days. And there’s all the missing out Sundays business! So to make it easy (for me as well!) I’ve made a little calendar postcard with all the dates on and the number sticker and story section for each day.
I hope you enjoy this calendar and find it simple and easy to use!
And if you used it last year or had the Advent Calendar, you know it’s fun and easy to use, so why not get a pack of 10 and share them with friends? You can also order individual copies and have them sent directly to friends or family if you choose.
And if you’re feeling bold, why not get a pack of 100 and share the cost with others? Could you give them to families you know at school or those who come to a toddler group or Messy Church?
Every year I’m blown away by how many people get these to give away, and I always keep some to give away myself, so if you really can’t afford one or you have a group of families in mind to give to but haven’t got a budget, do get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!