Holy Week Support for Families: A Guide for Attending Liturgies and Building Holiness at Home
Catholics commemorate the life and death of Jesus during Holy Week. With Easter just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to teach children how to honor and celebrate the events of Holy Week. From Palm Sunday to Good Friday, the Church holds several rich liturgical services and activities that strengthen families through Scripture, prayer, and the sacraments. Get the most out of your Holy Week by supplementing your church life with at-home prayers, activities, and traditions.
Don’t know where to begin? Catholic Family Crate has you covered! Follow these simple tips to get started:
- PLAN: Add your parish’s Holy Week liturgies and events to the family calendar. Find them in the bulletin or on the parish website.
- PRINT: Download and print Catholic Family Crate’s Free Holy Week Guide for family activities, Scriptures, and step-by-step instructions.
- GATHER: Choose your family activities and gather basic supplies ahead of time.
Before you print, peek at what’s inside Catholic Family Crate’s Free Holy Week Guide.
PALM SUNDAY: Prayers and Palm Procession
The Sunday before Easter, we celebrate Palm Sunday, the day when the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into the city by waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!” (John 12:13). On this day, the people recognized Christ as the King of Israel. It serves as a reminder that we should also welcome Christ into our hearts and glorify his name.
On Palm Sunday, Catholics attend Mass and receive blessed palms. (Pssst! Catholic churches around the world burn these palms the following year to use at the Ash Wednesday Mass.) To help your children fully experience the joy and significance of Palm Sunday, we suggest using your church palms or small branches from your yard to recreate the procession into Jerusalem. Find procession instructions, ideas, extra prayers, and Scriptures in Catholic Family Crate’s Free Holy Week Guide.
MONDAY & TUESDAY: Preparation
On Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week, take some time to prepare for the upcoming events by praying, gathering supplies, and marking your calendars.
SPY WEDNESDAY: Readings, Coin Search, and Discussion
The day before Holy Thursday is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday” – when Judas “spied” for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Scripture tells us, “Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.” (Matthew 26:14-16).
Jump right into the beautiful, holy chaos of the season with a family coin search, activities, and Scripture using the instructions in the guide. Don’t have time to play hide-and-seek with 30 pieces of silver? Skip straight to the discussion questions during one of your family meals:
- How do you think Jesus felt when one of his closest friends betrayed him?
- Have you ever betrayed Jesus?
- What should we do when we sin?
How can we repair our mistakes?
HOLY THURSDAY: Mass, Adoration, and Washing of the Feet
The Thursday before Jesus died, he celebrated Passover with his closest friends. We call this celebration the Last Supper because it is the final meal before Judas turned Christ over to the chief priests for crucifixion. At the celebration, Christ humbled himself by washing the disciples’ feet before they shared a meal. During dinner, Christ offered them his body and blood,marking the beginning of two major sacraments: the Institution of the Eucharist (First Communion) and the Institution of the Priesthood (Holy Orders).
To celebrate the Last Supper, you can:
Fun Fact: After Holy Thursday Mass, the Church does not celebrate Mass again until the Easter Vigil. There are no Masses during this time throughout the entire world.
After Mass, the faithful continue to adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during his agony in the garden.
You’ll find all the information you need to explain the Last Supper, Washing of the Feet, Blessing of the Chrism Oil, and more!
Use the step-by-step instructions and readings to create an at-home washing of the feet ritual. You’ll need a towel, pitcher, water basin, and washcloth.
GOOD FRIDAY: Veneration of the Cross and Stations of the Cross
Good Friday is the most solemn day of Holy Week – the day Christ endured insults, beatings, and false accusations before he carried his cross to Golgotha and died for our sins.
Keep this day holy by:
HOLY SATURDAY: Waiting and Resurrection Cookies
For many young Catholics, Holy Saturday is often the most challenging day of the Triduum! Why? On Holy Saturday, we join Jesus’ disciples in mourning his death while awaiting his resurrection. Help your saints in training rest and reflect by making our favorite Resurrection Cookies! Get the full recipe and corresponding readings here. We have a feeling this will become an annual family tradition!
EASTER SUNDAY: He has Risen!
Finally, Easter Sunday! Shout Alle—- again! Share the resurrection with your family and friends. Attend Mass, check on those Resurrection Cookies, fill your sacrifice jar with prizes, and celebrate!
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” – John 11:25-26
But wait! There's more! Did you know Easter is an entire season, not just one day? The Easter Season is 50 days long! Catholics celebrate Christ's victory over death longer than we fast (40 days of Lent). Easter officially ends on Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples.
This year, try celebrating Easter throughout the entire season with these ideas:
- Withhold some Easter candy and have a small egg hunt every Sunday.
- Keep fresh flowers in the house all 50 days.
- Have juice with breakfast or serve dessert more frequently.
Play the Alleluia card game and sing it every night after dinner.