A Lenten Dinner

Ever since last Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about an idea I have for a special Lenten dinner. I’ve seen this done in different combinations other places Shower of Roses has great ideas from a Catholic point-of-view!), and I thought it would be fun to put my own spin on it. I’m planning on our family dinner taking place at some point during Holy Week, because all of the events referenced in the meal take place during that time, but you could do it at any point during Lent that works for your family!

  • Sparkling grape juice–Before He was handed over to be crucified, Jesus spent some talking to His disciples, including reminding them that He is the vine, and they the branches (John 15:1-17). Sparkling fruit of the vine (grape juice) makes a nice accompaniment to this meal.
  • Salad with hearts of palm and an oil and red wine vinegar dressing–You can start your meal off with a salad that has several Holy Week connections. Any tossed salad will work, just add in some hearts of palm (available in jars at many supermarkets) to remember the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), and dress with (olive) oil to remember the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and red wine vinegar to remember Jesus being offered sour wine on the cross (John 19:28-30).
  • Mount of olives–After supper on Maundy Thursday, Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39-46). You don’t have to offer a mountain’s worth, but a plate or bowl of your favorite olives for your family to enjoy will do the trick!
  • Crown of thorns dip–This takes a bit of imagination without a picture, but you can prepare a basic hot cheese (or your family’s favorite) dip in a round serving dish, and arrange tortilla chips, with their points up, around the edge to symbolize the crown of thorns Jesus wore (Mark 15:16-20).
  • Unleavened bread–The Passover (Exodus 12:1-28; 43-51), and thus Maundy Thursday (Matthew 26:17-29), is known for unleavened bread. This is a fun and easy recipe to make with children, and will make a good addition to your Lenten meal.
  • The “rooster crows twice” chicken–You can use your family’s favorite chicken recipe to remember that Jesus told Peter that he would betray Him three times before the rooster crowed twice (Matthew 26:30-35, 69-75; Mark 14:26-31, 66-72; Luke 22:31-34, 54-62; John 13:36-38, 18:15-18, 25-27). Bonus points if you can use it for dinner twice with leftovers!
  • Fig Newtons–Even a Holy Week meal needs a dessert. You can start with some Fig Newtons to remember Jesus’ teaching about the fig tree during Holy Week (Matthew 21:18-22, 24:32-35; Mark 11:12-14, 20-26, 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33).
  • A purple robe–Jesus was given a purple robe to wear before He was crucified (Mark 15:16-20). Grape fruit leather or roll-ups can remind children of this Holy Week event. They can also be used a reminder of the garment without seam that Jesus wore (John 19:23-24a), and they can be torn by each family member to recognize the tearing of the Temple curtain at the time of Jesus’ death (Mark 15:38).
  • Hershey’s kisses–Judas betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53), and a Hershey’s kiss is an easy was to teach this part of the Holy Week story.
  • 30 pieces of silver–Chocolate coins can be used instead of (or in addition to) the Hershey’s kisses to emphasize the amount of money Judas was given to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).
  • Sleepytime tea–The disciples were supposed to keep watch while Jesus prayed in the garden, but instead fell asleep (Matthew 26:38-46). Finish your meal with a cup of relaxing tea.
  • Resurrection rolls–If you’re still awake, you can prepare resurrection rolls with your family, and place them in the oven to rest overnight, as a reminder that Jesus’ body rested in the tomb (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). Look for a surprise the next day when you eat them!

These are just some ideas for ways to help your children remember the events of Holy Week. What things do you do as a family during this penitential season?

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