How to Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate the Liturgical Year :: Living Liturgy

As we all know, celebrating the liturgical year with kids can sometimes take on the feeling of just one more big project for mom. Sarah tackles the question of how we build meaningful traditions in our Catholic home with our children by letting them do much of the work. Sarah has been blessing all of us with nuggets of wisdom for a long time now. Most of the time I am pretty sure she captures the spirit of Living Liturgy much better than I do. That is why I am happy she is writing a guest post for us about something she does so well — inspiring others to action.

I have always wanted to observe the liturgical year with regular teatimes and domestic celebrations. I’d see beautiful pictures online of how other Catholic moms were living out the Church year and think to myself, Yes! That is what we are going to do! I pictured myself creating liturgical rituals that would imprint themselves on my children’s memories, memories that would help them live out the year according to feast days with pleasure and reverence. And then it just never really happened.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did pull off a few, especially during one particular year early on, when I was motivated to live out the beauty I was seeing all over the blogosphere. But I wasn’t able to maintain that kind of ritual, and for a while I beat myself up over it, wishing I could give my kids the gift of marking the Church year in a beautiful, meaningful way. Fast forward to now, and my two oldest girls are 12 and 10. Imagine my delight to discover that not only are my girls willing to take over feast day celebrations, they love doing it!

How to Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate the Liturgical Year :: Living Liturgy | Everyday Snapshots
My girls executed all of this while I was napping! (Hey, I needed it. I was pregnant with twins.)

If you only have very small children, then be encouraged that this is just a season- you do not always have to do the song and dance. At some point, your oldest children really can and might even like to take the reigns. Do the best you can, keep things simple, and try to be as cheerful as possible. If at least one or two of your kids are a bit older, you may want to encourage them to take charge of feast day planning. Here are a few tips to help that happen.

1. Don’t set the bar too high.

If your kids think that having a liturgical celebration means the treats have to have some symbolic meaning or be made from scratch, they aren’t going to feel as confident taking over. My girls know that any treat is a way to celebrate! We aren’t celebrating the food we’re eating anyway- the food just helps us get our party on. They often make cookies or cupcakes from a boxed mix on feast days. Try to remember that it doesn’t matter so much what the treat is as much as it matters that you have one to mark the day.

How to Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate the Liturgical Year :: Living Liturgy | Everyday Snapshots
Sugar cookies my girls made from a box last May in honor of the Blessed Mother.

2. Provide a simple calendar.

Many parishes offer free calendars at the beginning of each new year. My girls each snag one and use them to decide which feast days they’d like to celebrate.

3. Provide finery you aren’t attached to.

A celebration is much more festive when the fancy dishes are put into use! I pick up tea pots and simple china pieces at thrift shops for this purpose. If they are thrifted, then I don’t worry if the pieces break (they were bought for pennies, anyway!).

How to Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate the Liturgical Year :: Living Liturgy | Everyday Snapshots
I picked up the pretty blue embroidered linen pictured here at a thrift shop for less than a dollar!

It’s nice to have linens in a few basic liturgical colors. You can use colors that coordinate with the Church calendar: purple (Advent, Lent), green (ordinary time), white (Christmas, Easter), red (feast days of martyrs, pentecost), and blue (Marian feasts). Look at thrift shops and garage sales for inexpensive tablecloths and napkins.

4. Give kids access to books, statues, and candles.

How to Encourage Your Kids to Celebrate the Liturgical Year :: Living Liturgy | Everyday Snapshots
A teatime tableau my girls set for the feast of St. Therese last October.

Can you store candles, small inexpensive statues, and some basic saint books where your kids can access them? My kids are happy to hunt around the house for items that will dress up the table, or flip through a saint book to look for a prayer or short biography. I keep simple illustrated titles like The Picture Book of Saints by Lawrence Lovasik on hand for such occasions.

5. Be enthusiastic!

Nothing is so catching as a mother’s enthusiasm. Above all, demonstrate enthusiasm for the Church’s rhythm, no matter how simply you observe it. Even just greeting your children with a cheery “Good morning! Happy feast day!” goes a long way. Our goal is to tie the Church year to our children’s hearts. We don’t need to be all that elaborate to make that happen. Do you have any tips for helping kids take charge of feast days? Share in the comments, we’d love to hear!

Sarah is a smitten wife and a homeschooling mama of six (including twins!). She writes about a life drenched in grace at Amongst Lovely Things.

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  • Erin says:

    Yes, yes, yes!! My older kids are so much better than I really at taking charge.
    My recent post 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 175)

  • Patty says:

    I love how technology has brought together so many moms to encourage one another in their lives as they try to live the liturgy at home. Happy Advent!

  • Phyllis says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling to do this very same thing. As a converted Catholic, I have trouble establishing these traditions.

    • edsnapshots says:

      You are welcome Phyllis (I am sure Sarah wouldn't mind me saying that.) I share your troubles. That's why I love getting friends like Sarah to help me out.

  • Amanda says:

    Love this post! It's encouraging! My oldest is 2 and while during his first year there were little fun to-do's during a few feast days, there have been NIL now that little brother is here. Hoping with time and grace their little hearts will delight in these feasts!

    • edsnapshots says:

      Feasts didn't get celebrated around here when there was a newborn and a two-year-old in the house. But that too shall pass. Enjoy your little one.

    • Sarah Mackenzie says:

      I agree! Time definitely. And LOTS of grace. 🙂

  • Kathy@9peas says:

    I have the same plate set from my Great Aunt, what a wonderful idea to use it for Liturgical Celebrations!
    I agree about not setting the bar to high, which is why I have what I call Feast Day Recipe Hacks – I use what I have in the pantry and make it work for the feast day.

    • edsnapshots says:

      Feast Day Recipe Hacks!! Love it Kathy!! I think letting go of something “themed” and going with any treat for the feast will be a biggie for us. I may even buy some mixes and tag them “for feast days only” and stick them in the pantry so i always have something quick and easy to grab.

  • colindale20 says:

    Remember too, that you don't always have to celebrate the Feast day on that very day…many days we missed, and celebrated the next day. Kids didn't notice, and the graces still flowed. We didn't do much when kids were little either. Simple sparkling apple juice, in wine glasses, with lunch is always a hit when life gets crazy.

  • melanie says:

    Yes, lose perfection. your celebration does not need to be pinworthy to impress your kids. I hacked the recipe for white chocolate cream cake from catholic cuisine for the feast day yesterday. We were iced in. I had to substitute some ingredients. I am less than impressed with my cake. lol. My frosting came out weird and clumpy, undoubtedly due to my substitutions. But my kids were thrilled, and my 5yo insisted on some blue sprinkles on top. They think it is beautiful! 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Love this! That sounds perfect. 🙂

    • edsnapshots says:

      Isn't it the truth that kids really get excited about the smallest thing? We did a canned cinnamon roll king cake for Christ the King and they thought it was the greatest thing ever. We moms definitely heap way too many expectations on ourselves.

  • Amy says:

    Sorry I am a little late to the conversation. So far, I have a house with three boys. They do love our liturgically-themed activities, but I have a hard time picturing them wanting to prepare a feast. Any thoughts on what this might look like “boy-style”? Should my expectations be different? Is this a more feminine activity? Thank you! I am all about lightening moms load and delegating more responsibilities to the children. It is a win, win!

    • edsnapshots says:

      Amy I am hoping some other bloggers will hop in and help out here. My middle boy is actually my baker and crafter. 😀 If someone doesn't chime in, I will see if I can rustle up someone to help answer your question.

    • Sarah says:

      That's a good question. I don't know… I think the family dynamics look so different depending on whether there are girls or boys first! I would imagine that boys would still enjoy a treat but perhaps not all the finery? My son does enjoy it, but I don't think he would take the reins and plan it.
      My recent post Advent Daybook

    • Amy says:

      Thanks ladies! Tonight I was pondering this and remembering my experiences working in the Church before I got married. It was usually women who were sacristans, or at least women who prepared the linens, candles, and decorations for the Mass. Obviously, men are the priests and more often the altar servers. I wonder if there is some similarity to this in the Domestic Church. Maybe I can think of a role like this in our little liturgical celebrations that reflect their gifts as men. I will keep pondering. Maybe in ten years…or twenty…I will have the answer! 🙂 Thanks again for bringing this all together in a link up. I don't have a blog, but I do gain so much from you ladies!

      • I know I’m late to the conversational party, but if you’re looking for inspiration on how to incorporate your Catholic faith into family life with boys, then I’d encourage you to check out the blog By Sun and Candlelight. I’m Protestant, but I have gained much inspiration from Dawn’s blog about how to incorporate faith into family life, especially with boys, since I have an infant son. http://dawnathome.typepad.com/by_sun_and_candlelight/

  • […] these ideas from Sarah about creating liturgical tea time. Making these days special is fun, and will help create sweet memories for my little […]

  • Great practical tips! We just shared on the Catholic Child Facebook page! Check out our FREE Liturgical Year printable here: http://www.catholicchild.com/FaithFun.asp#ff2015

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