After 40 days of reflection and fasting for Lent, Easter — the holiest day of the Christian calendar — marks a joyful and triumphant day of celebration for the onset of spring and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. With the day quickly approaching, churches will want to find the best way possible to symbolize the resurrection and inspire in their many churchgoers that celebratory feeling.
While the social distancing guidelines that are in place so far in 2020 may pose some unusual challenges for your church’s celebration, we are seeing many churches move to an online service, making decorations for the holiday still as relevant as in years past.
How you choose to decorate is up to you, as every element has a symbolic meaning that gives it a unique value. These easy ways to decorate a church for Easter can help get your congregants in the spirit and make this exceptionally holy day one to remember.
The AltarDepending on the design of your church, the orientation of the altar can vary, but that shouldn’t stop you from adorning it with some extra touches to make it stand out more than usual. Perhaps the most frequently noted element, in this case, is the cloth draped around the cross. Multiple colors of church drapes are used throughout the holiday season, each representing a different aspect of Jesus and the events of the Passion. The purple cloth, most commonly seen prior to the holiday, represents his royalty as King of Kings. A black cloth displayed around Good Friday symbolizes his death, and a white cloth hung on Easter morning represents his resurrection. It is possible that the church’s lighting, when reflected off the drapes, can add to the color and provide extra weight to the meaning.
Additionally, another common practice is to include a crown of thorns — either on the cross or as a separate decoration with flowers and another cloth — representative of the crown placed on Jesus at the Crucifixion. You can get very creative putting that together, as you can also use those designs as wreaths or table decorations. Keep in mind that the crown’s size and placement depend on that of your cross. If it’s too big or too small in comparison, it’s probably best to include it as a separate decoration. Churches will often place candles in certain areas throughout the congregation to represent Jesus as the light of the world. A mixture of elements such as these can give the congregation something deeply meaningful to observe during the service.
FlowersAn especially easy way to decorate a church for Easter is to adorn the surrounding area with flowers. Before Easter, churches tend to avoid them because Lent is meant to be more of a solemn occasion. This makes the transition even more noticeable, as the flowers add color and light to your setting and provide a striking expression of joy perfect for the holiday. Many flowers associated with Easter have gained symbolic meaning and representation over time. Below are some examples you can use to emphasize these symbols:
- Easter lilies, appropriately named, contain a white hue to represent Jesus’s purity and serve as a symbol of eternal life. They also tend to grow out of a bulb in the ground, which has become a symbol of the resurrection.
- Tulips represent rebirth after winter and come in a myriad of colors, allowing you to add a wide variety to your setting.
- Yellow daffodils also serve as a representation of rebirth, and their hue often inspires a feeling of happiness.
In general, white-hued flowers tend to serve as symbols for purity, serenity, and divinity, with different blooms providing various textures for the display. Many churches add more seasonally common flowers, such as hyacinth or hydrangea, to represent the ongoing spring. To evoke a more joyful feeling, you can also use flowers with a wide color scheme. They can be placed anywhere from at the foot of the altar to down the aisles and around the cross. Whatever you choose, though, they are sure to help raise your congregants’ spirits and get them into the celebration.
Other Symbols You Can AddWhile every church decoration has its own meaning, the real creativity comes in what you decide to include and how you use it. You might organize elements in a way that symbolizes a verse of your choosing or provides a representation of Jesus’s life and work. Many churches like to decorate their crosses with butterflies, as each stage of their life mirrors that of Jesus — the caterpillar being his life on Earth, the cocoon being the crucifixion, and the final butterfly stage being his resurrection. On Palm Sunday the week before, you can cover the area with palm branches to pay homage to how people waved them during Jesus’s first arrival in Jerusalem. To spread a further message, you can make a banner to hang behind the cross with a quote or verse running along it, or perhaps have an image of the Last Supper or a scene leading to the resurrection. And for the kids in your congregation, you can include some Easter eggs for them to paint. While the Easter Bunny may not have a Biblical counterpart, the eggs have still come to represent new life and rebirth, and to provide a meaningful symbol kids can quickly identify.
Ultimately, the best way to decorate your church stems from your own imagination. There is no right way to decorate for the holiday, and every church can utilize their own methods to give a unique service. Like a story you analyzed back in your school days, Easter symbols can take on many different meanings, and when well-organized, they can provide beautiful results. At the same time, it can be overwhelming to think about all the things you can do, and trying to include them all might overwhelm your congregants. The best option is to think about what the church represents and how it interprets the story of Easter and all its symbols. You can use that interpretation to create a meaningful setting that amazes your congregants while spreading a message of purity and rebirth. Easter is meant to be a joyous celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, and with a creative decorating method, that feeling can spread through the entire congregation.