Our Pilgrim’s Progress Birthday Party

A few months ago, my eldest daughter finished listening to part two of Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey for the 500th time (probably only a slight exaggeration!) and proceeded to tell my wife that she wanted a Pilgrim’s Progress birthday party. Tiff and I both thought that was an excellent idea and immediately began to imagine all the possibilities. Thankfully, she stuck to that request and last Saturday that long-expected party finally came to fruition, and it was a blast.

While the party more closely adapted Christiana’s journey than the pilgrimage of Christian, we ultimately created our own adventure through the familiar locales of the book.

We began with Evangelist giving the children their invitation to seek the King’s City and pointing them to the Narrow Gate. As their guide, I hurried them through the gate before Lord Beelzebub could pierce them with one of his fiery darts.

Our pilgrims then crossed the Bog of Despond by walking across a plank of wood over the lake.

We then came to the house of Interpreter. Our friend played that role and used some toy snakes to warn the pilgrims that the sin within them is even more dangerous than the venom within a snake.

Leaving Interpreter’s house, we passed through the Valley of Humiliation, remembering Christian’s desperate battle with Apollyon. We walked carefully through the darkness of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, shouting to one another, “We will not fear, for our King is near!” We kept awake through the Enchanted Ground and snuck past the castle of Giant Despair.

We had no decorations for each of those stages, relying only upon the children’s imaginations. But once I announced that we had successfully passed by Doubting Castle, my brother came out of the woods as Giant Maul, and I did battle with him, allowing the pilgrims to safely continue their journey.

After overcoming the Hill of Difficulty, we brought the pilgrims back to the Palace Beautiful, where Prudence, Piety, Charity, and Discretion had plenty of refreshments. Once the birthday cake was cut, we received news that Apollyon was preparing to attack the Palace. Thankfully, with a special sword provided from the King, the pilgrims were able to defeat the dragon.

Tiff and I have played through various parts of Pilgrim’s Progress with our daughter more times than we can count, but her great desire for her birthday party was simply to pretend to be pilgrims with all of her friends. And that’s exactly what we did!

It was incredible to see all of her friends so excited to dress up like pilgrims and go on their own journey. I am fairly certain that I first heard of the Pilgrim’s Progress in my mid-twenties, but thanks to books like Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey, it is now one of most beloved stories for my daughter and her friends. They knew the more well-known stories from Christian’s pilgrimage, but most of them dressed up as characters from part two: Christiana, Matthew, Jude, Mercy, Great-heart, etc.

Stories shape us in deeper ways than we can imagine, and Bunyan’s classic Scripture-steeped allegory is still worth shaping our children’s imaginations.


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