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Great Lent and Children

As Lent approaches, I have been trying to make a plan for nightly devotions with my children. My children love doing this during Advent, and so I’ve been looking for resources to continue this practice. As much as I love handmade, creative ideas, my life is not conducive to creating right now! It’s either beautiful, handmade crafts or school work and a clean house!

Thankfully, I’ve been able to find some easy ways to incorporate nightly readings, and hands-on activities that will capture the interest of my children. Here are a few ideas:

Paidea Classics sells a wonderful Lenten calendar. It has numbered doors for each Sunday of the Triodion, and then each day during Great Lent. It also comes with a booklet that contains short readings for each day.

We will also be using our Advent wreath, just redecorated! There are 7 Sundays in Lent, so we have 7 purple candles, plus a white candle for Pascha.

The highlight of our nightly devotions during Advent was our Jesse Tree. Paidea also sells shrink plastic ornaments for Lent! There is a pack for the seven Sundays in Lent, and another that has an ornament for each day of Holy Week. We will be using our Jesse Tree, with a spring-time tree skirt.

I’m so happy that with just a few clicks we have something tangible for our family to embrace Great Lent at home!

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Daily Family Readings for Lent

If you’re like me, you already miss the nightly readings and ornaments of the Jesse Tree. my 2 year-old embraced our devotions fully this year, and still asks to “do Advent” every night! Today I heard about a wonderful way to integrate daily family readings during Lent, which will be here before we know it! This Orthodox Mom is developing the readings and posting them as she finishes them. I am inspired, and would love to eventually come up with ornaments to go along with the readings.

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Updated Readings for the Jesse Tree

There are now several sources for readings for the Jesse Tree.  Fr. Joshua and Mat. Jenny Mosher have graciously updated and shared readings, which you can download:

Updated Readings for Jesse Tree

Shortened Readings for Jesse Tree (for smaller attention spans!)

Also, you can download a list of readings from the Children’s Bible Reader.  Thank you to Mat. Emily for providing this option!

Children’s Bible Reader schedule

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2009 Jesse Tree Project

Please visit the following site to see the ornaments from the 2009 Jesse Tree Project!  What a wonderful job these families did!

Please click on the image to view all the ornaments from this year.

Thank you to Victoria, who took the time to take these pictures!

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A New Chapter

For all of the faithful vistors to the Festal Celebrations’ Gallery, I’d  like to announce that this site is under new ownership. With God’s help, I hope to continue the good work that the previous owner started, and continue to share ideas to help families bring the Church’s  feasts into their homes. I hope to have several individuals contribute to the site, and make it a true community effort. Please be patient and forgive me as I take some time to organize thoughts and ideas, and please realize that first, and foremost, I am a mother of young children, and that comes first! I invite you to get to know me a little better at my personal blog, The One Thing Needful.
Expect to see a post in the next few days on the latest addition to the Jesse Tree Project!

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This was contributed by the Papademetris family. Thank you!

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How to decorate an icon with flowers: Icon_Flowers

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The Meeting of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Temple

Troparion – Tone 1

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace!

From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God.

Enlightening those who sat in darkness!

Rejoice, and be glad, O righteous elder;

You accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls,

Who grants us the Resurrection.

Kontakion – Tone 1

By Your nativity, You did sanctify the Virgin’s womb,

And did bless Simeon’s hands, O Christ God.

Now You have come and saved us through love.

Grant peace to all Orthodox Christians, O only Lover of man!


For a wonderful online video telling the story of the presentation:

Click here.

Wendy M. (thank you Wendy!) made the following suggestions for celebrating this feast:

  • Make honeycomb beeswax candles and have them blessed at your parish on the feast day. The candles are very easy to make. You only need a sheet of honeycomb wax sheet, wick, and possibly a hair dryer (depending whether you live in a warm or cold climate.) Cold wax sheets are very fragile, so it is best to warm it with the hair dryer before rolling the wax around the wick. The following website gives much better instructions: candle-making-guide.com (offering instructions for pillar style candles) and wicksandwax.com (offering instructions for tapered candles). Some craft stores sell them, but they can also be purchased online. A discussion could follow, describing Christ as the “light to bring revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32).
  • If you have a small paper icon of the feast, which can be a color printout of an icon found online, and Stockmar Candle Decorating Wax, you can decorate the honeycomb or conventional wax candles in preparation for this feast, or for a baptism or Pascha. Stockmar Candle Decorating Wax as well as well as honeycomb wax for the candle itself, can be found here or here . Candles could also be made in the traditional way by dipping. And paint could be used instead or in addition to, decorating wax.
  • Share pictures of your children’s churching and discuss how it relates to the Presentation of our Lord.
  • For old children, you may want to examine the service prayers said during a forty-day churching.
  • Another activity practiced by some is singing the Prayer of St. Simeon daily until the leavetaking of the feast

Images of candles made by Wendy and her daughter:

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The following are links to music downloads for the feast (provided by Molly):

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