18 March 2016

Planning for Holy Week

We have the Solemnity of St Joseph on Saturday, and then Holy Week is upon us! It's time to try and hammer out our plan for this final stretch: lots of liturgies happening, lots of things to make and do, but all the while trying to keep a sense of solemnity and spiritual preparation for Easter.

...then add little kids into the accounting, and the "low bar" goal becomes something more like "keep the chaos to a dull roar."

Solemnity of St Joseph, March 19
There's no Mass for the day at any of the parishes in town, as far as I know. Disappointing, but we'll read the readings at home in the morning, and read and talk about St Joseph with Little Bear throughout the day. Because he's the patron saint of husbands, fathers, workers, and Sicilians, we also make a point of celebrating St Joseph as one of Matt's patrons. 

Supper: something Italian, anyway... I'm sure Matt and Little Bear will both vote for pasta. Most of the recipes I've found that are explicitly linked to St Joseph's feast day involve ricotta and cream and other wonderful things that I can't have right now, but we'll think of something. Last year I made a chocolate sheet cake, but I don't want to have half a cake left over and sitting in the kitchen during Holy Week, so I'll have to find something smaller for dessert. Matt and Little Bear have been talking about milkshakes lately, so maybe the two of them will make those.

Palm Sunday, March 20
Mass: 7:30am, possibly with a procession? There was one last year, but no one said anything about it last weekend. We'll hope it happens!

Palms will immediately go up with the icons, to discourage Little Bear from playing with them... If it's warm enough to take the kids for a walk, we will go hunting for pussy willows as well.

Supper: Psari plaki, cinnamon carrots, and long-grain brown rice. If two years' occurrence makes something "traditional," the psari plaki is our traditional Palm Sunday supper. Or will be, once I'm washing dishes Sunday evening. The recipe is based on a traditional Greek dish for Palm Sunday, and brings the day a brief "taste" of the joy and richness we're looking forward to on Easter.

Monday/Tuesday of Holy Week, March 21/22
It is my firm intention to play the Easter clothes prep game on one of these days, and not let it wait until later in the week. Kit's dress, tights, sweater, shoes; Little Bear's vest, shirt, pants, socks, tie, shoes; whatever Matt and I are wearing: I want to see everything laid out all together, mended, ironed, set aside neatly together so it's all ready for Easter morning.

Just to get our week off to a great start, Kit has a doctor appointment and vaccinations first thing Monday morning.

Tuesday evening, I need to bake the Jidasé for Wednesday.

Spy Wednesday, March 23
Jidasé, Judas buns, for breakfast.

Little Bear and I will read about Judas' agreement to betray Christ, which is where the day's name comes from. Interesting fact of the day: in obsolete usage, "spy" could be defined as meaning "ambush" or "snare," according to the 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Those meanings help "spy" make a little more sense in the context of Judas' actions, I think.

Little Bear loves hard-boiled eggs, so he should be excited to help me make a bunch of them this afternoon to have them ready to dye. He definitely remembers dying eggs last year—I've been hearing about it all Lent!

Holy Thursday, March 24
Mass: 7:00pm. We're doing it. Little Bear has never been, and it's a long, long Mass that doesn't even start until bedtime, so it could be very hard... But Matt's on the parish council, so he was asked to volunteer to have his feet washed. And maybe the novelty of the special liturgy and the being dressed nicely and at church late at night will inspire good behavior? Let's hope so.

Midmorning, I'll start the dough for the Hot Cross Buns. We have a couple of picture books about the Passion, which I'll pull out in the afternoon.

Supper: I have an unfortunate 2-for-2 record of somehow catching lamb on fire in the oven when I try to cook it, so we will not be having lamb this year. In past years we've always tried to have a nicer supper on Holy Thursday, in commemoration of the Last Supper, but because we need to be able to leave right away afterward for Mass, this year I'm leaning toward a simpler shepherds pie with a spinach salad.

Good Friday, March 25
Hot Cross Buns for breakfast.

Good Friday is a fast day, and while Little Bear and I will not be technically fasting, whatever we eat during the day will (hopefully) be plain and unexciting.

I don't have any idea how to make this happen, but ideally I'd like to try and keep things fairly still and quiet between noon and 3pm, the hours that Christ hung on the cross.

There's a chance we will make it to the Good Friday evening liturgy, but we're not going to push our luck by planning on it. We'll likely do the Stations of the Cross as a family after supper instead. In the evening, Matt and I will begin the Divine Mercy novena.

Supper: Greek lentil soup, crusty bread. I'm planning to use the soup recipe from A Continual Feast, which features vinegar "in memory of the vinegar that Christ was offered on the cross."

Holy Saturday, March 26
The dough for my Italian Easter Bread will get started right away in the morning, and we'll dye eggs with Little Bear while the dough rises. My mother braids raw dyed eggs into her bread and they always cook through completely, but so far the colored eggs in my Easter breads have always come out soft-boiled at best, so I'm going to just stick hard-boiled dyed eggs in it this year. 

We'll also make these spinach-artichoke bites to bring to my parents' house for Easter. If I recall correctly, there was a good bit of spinach-artichoke dip left over last year, so we'll have to work out whether we're bringing that as well or Matt will take care of it at home. (I figure this goes without saying, but while I can make the Jidasé, Hot Cross Buns, and Italian Easter Bread with non-dairy substitutes, I can't do that with these!)

This is not the right year for us to attempt going to the Easter Vigil with the kids, but hopefully some year soon. Once Little Bear is asleep, Matt and I will go around taking down all of the purple cloth covering our crucifixes, statues, icons, etc. The icon of the Resurrection will come out, the black beans in the "sacrifice jar" will be traded out for jelly beans, and we will set out Easter baskets.

Spread out like this, I don't sound too crazy for thinking I can do all these things, do I? As long as I'm really truly not trying to do any extra things outside of the house, and the children are at least marginally cooperative, I think—I hope—I'm choosing to trust that we're going to have a not-too-chaotic Holy Week. And I pray that yours is on the less-chaotic side, as well! What do your plans look like? 

We thank You, O Lord, for having brought us thus far in our journey to seek You anew. Forgive us where we have failed along the way. Strengthen us to continue with peace of soul this last week of our journey, that we may partake in the joyous and glorious day of Your Resurrection. Amen.

From Daily Lenten Reflections for Orthodox Christians, by Emily Harakas.

The list/plan/thing wound up having seven days/entries, so yay, I can link up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes! You can find more thoughts on Holy Week and Easter preparation over there this week.


  1. I realize this is probably too late, but we make pasta milanese for St. Joseph's day. It's a traditional dish for the day. We have it with bread, salad, some sort of fruit, and a fish dish (usually fried tilapia). And lemon drop cookies for dessert. Anyways, here is the recipe. I add pine nuts with the raisins. http://off-my-plate.blogspot.com/2010/03/feast-day-of-saint-joseph-part-i.html?m=1

    1. That sounds good! I'll have to try and remember it for next year. We wound up having Italian sausage sandwiches on rolls with sautéed peppers and onions... not the most authentic, but still good.