Every homesteader, farmer and gardener feels the thrill of spring as it breezes into the year. It’s such a wonderful time for any person, or any religious persuasion, to celebrate cycles of renewal and rebirth. Here are some homestead traditions for this time of year – from our family to yours!
To learn about more seasonal and holy day observations for the homestead family, please sign up to learn about the release of our newest book, Homestead Holidays! Full of information, history, crafts and recipes, as well as practical advice for growing a healthy and happy homestead family, Homestead Holidays is sure to please young and old alike. Plus, when you sign up, you’ll be the first to get special offers and discounts at the book’s release.
Spring on the Homestead
There are a lot of ways to celebrate spring on the homestead and one of my favorites is to start in the fall of the previous year by planting spring flowering bulbs.
You’re tired come October. You’re busy with the harvest, the upcoming holidays and, if you’re like me, you’re so infinitely practical that sometimes bulbs can seem a little bit of a frilly waste of time. Not so!
I can’t describe the joy that I get from my daffodils. It’s an almost ethereal feeling for this very pragmatic girl. I believe that nature has a unique ability to glorify the Creator in a way that transcends words. Pretty deep for a homestead post but if all I have to do to experience this joy is to plunk a few bulbs in the ground in the fall, I’m all over that.
We try to plant just a few every year (the budget isn’t big for stuff like that) and stagger them so that I have some blooming in early, middle and late spring.
For some quick, simple advice from Farm Girl Gabs on planting spring blooming bulbs, click here.
Spring Flowering Branches
If you have fruit trees or spring flowering shrubs then this is the easiest spring or Easter decoration ever.
- Cut some 1-4′ branches from your fruit trees once their buds have swollen and are set to burst open.
- Bring them in, stripping the bottoms of any buds and place them in vases of water.
- In a few days, you’ll have branches of blooms. They’re simply so beautiful, they’ll take your breath away.
- Our favorites are peach, plum, forsythia, pussy willow and flowering quince.
Whether you’re tucking in with your children or reading them for your own delight, these books are sure to please in the spring.
- A personal favorite, The Secret Garden, is one I’m reading again with my children. Hope is the word that summarizes this book for me. I think of hope as that often forgotten commandment. Hope is to be found in every garden, each growing space being it’s own analogy.
- Rechenka’s Eggs is one of my very favorite Patricia Polacco picture books. You’re never too old for her books. This one is particularly meaningful for homesteaders because part of the story is the rescue of an injured goose. How many injured animals have we nurtured over the years? (You can find nicely priced used copies at Thriftbooks.com)
- Nature’s Art Box is a fun one any time of year but spring is as good a time as any to pick up a copy and start nature crafting with your kids and grand-kids. Hey, you could really have fun doing some of these on your own! Learning to use natural materials for crafts and games means that, wherever you are, there’s built in fun. Turning bell flowers into stick-maiden skirts and willow whips into knights’ swords is an worthwhile talent. To get some more inspiration, please visit this post on Natural Crafts – there are many here to choose from, plus instruction.
- For seasonal living any time of year and for a hands on approach to this deliberate lifestyle, I recommend the Homespun Seasonal Living guide below. The kids and I use this book a lot during our homeschool year.
These whimsical gardens have gotten so popular lately and I love them! My kids build little fairy forts all over the place, filling them with homemade stick furniture and leaving little treats for them.
When I was a child, my step mother would have us leave small gifts at Equinox and Solstice for the fairies and elves and they, in turn, would gift us neat rocks or small trinkets. It was so magical for me.
Bear and Lion Mama did a great round up post on fairy gardens, click here to see it. If you have brave lads who aren’t as into fairy gardens as your fair lasses, here’s a post from Fun at Home with Kids on building a dinosaur garden, click here.
Good Friday Potato Planting
Good Friday is traditionally the time for planting seed potatoes. If it works for your zone, get those spuds into the ground!
We’ve tried a couple different methods but I still think this is my favorite way to grow a lot of potatoes in a limited amount of space – the post is from Growing Lots Urban Farm and you can read it by clicking here.
To learn more about growing food crops and keeping track of all your garden plans, I highly recommend The Gardening Notebook below. This is what I use every year to plan my garden and keep track of what I’ve done…and what I haven’t yet done. Sigh. It’s a great resource either way!
Easter Baskets, Passover Meals and More!
As Christians, Easter is a deeply meaningful holiday for us and we take several weeks during our homeschool days to study it and learn about its symbols and the way people celebrate all over the world.
Here are some of the things we do to specifically celebrate Easter, with other springtime feasts and festivals to follow.
Living Easter Baskets
These are a fun way to make Easter baskets that are far removed from the cheap-o, meaningless packages of plastic and sugar you can buy at any dime store. Growing your own Easter grass takes time and care which makes it a perfect activity for any homestead kid. After Easter, the grass can be fed to the chickens and goats and everyone is happy!
To learn how to make a living Easter basket, please visit our article over at Hobby Farms online by clicking this link.
- You can also learn how to make felt Easter eggs to decorate your basket with, please visit Teri at The Homestead Honey by clicking this link.
- For 4 different natural ways to decorate your eggs, please click on this link from Herbal Academy of New England.
- To learn how to blow out eggs for decorating, please visit our link here.
- For learning about some natural, less toxic ways to dye your Easter eggs, please visit our link there.
Aside from Easter baskets, who doesn’t love a good Easter treat?! Hot Cross Buns are an absolute favorite of ours for Good Friday.
- Here’s a sourdough version (for our health) of the Hot Cross Bun from Nourishing Joy, please click here.
- For some unique healthy Easter treats to make with kids, please visit Whole New Mom here.
- If you’d like a traditional Easter kulich recipe, click here.
Follow His Week
For this one, we grab our New Testament and, every day of Easter week, we try to follow what the Savior is doing. We read about His last earthly miracles, the people He hung out with and the final things He declared about His mission. We remember how truly real His friendship with us is and how often He pursues us into our own, personal Gardens of Gethsemane to rescue us still.
Maundy Thursday to Easter Morning
The last few days of the week are made very personal to us as we follow Father Tim’s example (remember those Mitford books I suggest you read?). Here’s part of what we do:
- We darken our windows and mirrors on Maundy Thursday, the day Christ was crucified.
- This usually requires that we use every extra blanket in the house to cover our numerous windows.
- We put down the shades and blinds and close the shutters.
- Lastly, we cover the mirrors to show that, in this moment, we just are concerned with what we look like.
Come Sunday morning, we rip those blankets down with such glee. As the light spills in we open all the windows, shutters and blinds. We take the black, garbage bags down from the mirrors and make sure we’re neat, tidy and modest as we make our way to church.
The kids are good sports about this tradition, even though it drives them bonkers living without light for that long. Our house becomes a small representation of the tomb into which Christ’s body was laid and then becomes a parable of hope and new life. This tradition takes some fortitude but it’s one of my favorites.
To learn more about what you can do with your family on Maundy Thursday, please visit this post.
A Christian Passover
I can’t tell you how my appreciation and understanding of Easter has deepened by studying Passover. I have so much respect for the way the Jewish people observe their feast days and festivals. We’ve had equal enjoyment observing Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and other holidays.
A Few Christian Passover Supplies
I purchased a book called God’s Appointed Times by Barney Kasdan, a messianic Jew, that really helped me translate these holidays into my Christian culture – we share so much history and doctrine with our Jewish friends, after all!
We have a simple Seder plate and take some time to gather all the items we need for the meal. Each child is in charge of explaining one of the symbols of the food on the plate. We read the story of Moses’s people and the first Passover, too. Sometimes we do this with friends and other times we do it just as a family.
- To make Passover more engaging for Jewish children (or any children), here’s a great list of ideas from Mazel Moments, click here.
- For a Christian families perspective on observing Passover in their family, please click here to read a post from A Small Snippet.
- To try a homestead Matzo recipe from Joybilee Farm, click this link. For a whole Seder dinner with Chris’s recipes, click here.
Other Spring Holy Days:
Holi – Festival of Color – A Hindu spring festival where people dress in green or white. Children then squirt each other with water pistols filled with yellow or red colored liquid. Everyone blows colored powder on each other through bamboo pipes, getting soaked, colorful and messy to celebrate spring.
Songkran – We learned about this one when we studied Thailand one year. It’s a three day long, Buddhist water festival in April to celebrate the new year. They hold parades with big statues of Buddha that spray water on people watching. In fact, people all over sort of just throw water at each other for fun. Families will often also release fish into rivers as an act of service. Water is such a powerful symbol of life!
Not Holy But Reverent
May Day – To celebrate the return of spring, children in England and other places in Europe dance around tall maypoles, draped in ribbons. The dancing wraps the ribbons tightly around the pole, making neat patterns. It’s also traditional to leave surprise treats on doorsteps and doorknobs.
We usually make cones out of paper, fill them with treats or flowers and deliver them, sneaky-like in the early morning to friends and neighbors. Kids love doing secret acts of service – it tickles their fancy and mine!
All of these are featured in our upcoming book, Homestead Holidays! Look for that this fall and don’t forget to sign up to hear about the special offers we’ll have just for you to celebrate!
Did I miss one? What’s your favorite way to celebrate spring on the homestead? They’re Not Our Goats has a lovely post about her family’s traditions for Easter and you can read that here.
To learn more about quality resources for traditions, feasts and festivals for your family, please visit our post on the topic by clicking this link.
Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.