Easter Service or Easter Parade?

There are two very distinct ways I see people celebrating Easter. 

1) Eggs, candy, hunts, bunnies, pastels, and fake grass.

2) Holy Week, stations of the cross, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, communion, Ressurection Sunday.

Generally they are often celebrated simultaneously. There are very few people who celebrate the religious aspect who don’t also celebrate in the first fashion as well. Conversely, for those who are not regular religious practitioners, this may be on their yearly to-do. 

Although most people celebrate both, it’s hard to combine the sacred with the secular in a music group without trivializing a holiday that is so monumental to those of faith. For instance, although “Up From the Grave He Arose” has a lovely ascending melody with coordinating upward lyrics, it doesn’t feel appropriate to represent the risen Savior with a scarf dance.


This morning for my rehab group I went more of the Holy Week route. The crew I had was for lack of a better term a little weary–emotionally, physically, mentally. As simple as it sounds I grabbed my guitar, printed off some adult coloring crosses and color pencils and we had a reflective, ponderous, celebratory time of singing songs of sin, the cross, the resurrection, and our hope. The songs and order I chose are listed below. For those who wanted to sing along I used the Apple TV for external lyric projection in Onsong and for others who needed a more kinesthetic outlet I provided the coloring pages. For this group of individuals on this particular morning, the “break” from the therapy grind and stress of health concerns, separation and unknown futures was readily welcomed. It truly turned into a sweet, rejuvenating time.

  • To God Be the Glory
  • Nothing But the Blood
  • At the Cross
  • When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
  • The Old Rugged Cross
  • Up From the Grave He Arose
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • He Lives
  • Because He Lives 
  • Victory in Jesus

On the other hand, the LTC afternoon group needed something a little more energizing . Ergo, there were eggs.

After our hello song, we made our own “Easter Parade” (Judy Garland) with an array of pastel scarves. Next came the egg shakers. Although it’s not an Easter song or really a geriatric song, the song “I Know a Chicken” gives great direction for shakers and movement. The chords are listed below and it is sung in a blues style đŸ˜‰ I prefaced with the fact that it is a ridiculous song and thanked them for indulging me so as not to make them feel as though it was a childish. Even though they obviously thought it was silly, it was also pretty obvious by the giggles and smirks that they secretly loved it. *See video below.

(A7) Well….

(D) I know a chicken….(echo) and she laid an egg…(echo)

(G) I know a chicken….(echo) (D) and she laid an egg…(echo)

Well (A7) oh my goodness it (G) was a shaky (D) egg.

So shake it up and down/side to side/up high/down low/etc. x5 in blues style

For the movement to music section we did the bunny hop! Here is a link to a TV premier of the popular dance: http://youtu.be/GWndL5N6edI. We did a chair version of left kick x4, right kick x4, hop back and forth x4 and bounce x4. I used the Bunny Hop Dance Party recording on Spotify (which is in my Easter playlist).

Believe it or not we actually transitioned from all this silliness into traditional Easter hymns. The key to not making this feel like a jolting hault in the commercialized extravaganza and a  church service is the transition. Throughout the initial activities, I asked some reminiscing questions related to the intervention. “Did you ever hunt for eggs? Did you ever hide eggs for your children? Did you use real eggs or plastic? Have you ever dyed eggs?” Egg-cetera (had to do it)…focusing on the pastimes and gradually in the traditions. If you exhaust the material side of the holiday and ask “What are some of the other ways you celebrate Easter?”church will definitely come up. In that, they are the ones who made the bridge to religious side of things as this was a very important part of the holiday for many of our residents. Especially if your first hymn is very celebratory in nature (He Lives, Christ the Lord is risen today, or Up From the Grave He Arose!) you can avoid feeling sacrilegious. 

Conclusion…if you’re facility/population allows, a spiritually focused Easter session could really be a beneficial time of reflection for your residents. However there are tactful ways of integrating some of the more secular festivities of the season to spark/initiate reminiscing. An appropriate combination of both can afford both meanful and fun interactions.


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