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Easter traditions for families

Colored eggs mean Easter for many families around the world
Colored eggs mean Easter for many families around the world
Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Children love traditions. They need to have something special to which they can look forward with anticipation. Families grow stronger when they share that sense of wonder and magic, causing their bonds to strengthen.

Whether or not you enjoy the Christian aspect of Easter, there is the historic, cultural and seasonal part of the holiday that begs for children to throw off the heavy coats of winter and celebrate the pastels and new growth of spring. The Easter Bunny makes his appearance at various venues, candies and flowers appear in all the stores and everyone breathes a sigh of relief that they survived another cold spell and are moving into the lazy, hazy days of summer.

There are a number of top ways to celebrate the secular side of Easter: decorating eggs, having an egg hunt, making and decorating cookies, planting seeds or growing flowers or doing arts and crafts to celebrate the season.

Decorating eggs started with the Romans, who believed that all life came from an egg. This was adopted by Christians who declared eggs to be the "seed of life." Whether you teach children the art of pysanky - decorating eggs with beeswax and a stylus - or you use a kit from the store, crayons or food coloring and water, children love to dip their eggs, arrange them on a decorated plate or basket and then crack them open on Easter to "make a wish." Our family has always decorated our Easter eggs on Good Friday as part of our traditional celebration.

Easter Egg Hunts are one of the most fun parts of the holiday. You can use tiny chocolate foil-covered eggs, real colored eggs, or colored plastic eggs filled with candy of your choice. If you assign a color of egg to each child, and have an equal number of each color, no one will feel slighted or cheated on Easter morning.

Planting seeds to signify new growth is another old tradition. This is something the whole family can do together, from picking out seed packages or seedlings to caring for them as they grow. "Easter" is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The Easter Lily is a symbol of purity and growth that has become one of the most recognizable symbols of this holiday. As beautiful as lilies are, they are toxic to pets and children, so be careful where you display them.

There is nothing complicated about baking Easter cookies. You can find numerous containers of refrigerated dough in that section of the supermarket or you may just want to make a plain sugar cookie recipe yourself and have your children decorate those when cool. Just don't forget the sprinkles, because, as children often say, sprinkles 'make' the cookie! If your kids are more into cupcakes, make "bunnies go down the hole" cupcakes using cookies for the bottom of the bunny feet and a marshmallow or candy for a tail. Edge the cupcakes with green frosting "grass" or green coconut and you have instant bunny cupcakes.

Children love arts and crafts and bunny crafts can be as simple as a paper plate, construction paper ears and whiskers and googly eyes. You can find countless examples of crafts online - simple to complex - that children (and adults) of all ages will enjoy. Decorate your walls, windows and outside door to celebrate Easter and make this a part of your yearly tradition.

Share your old family traditions with your children and see if you can make that part of your special celebration. Visit a nature sanctuary, play in the park, take a nature walk and talk about spring changes. Share dinner or treats with others who are less fortunate or have no one to be with during this wonderful time of year. All this can contribute to a very real, natural sense of wonder about spring, Easter and the world around us.