Happy Easter—Here’s to Tradition AND Change!

Happy Easter—Here’s to Tradition AND Change!

Isn’t it funny how Easter traditions change over time… and how they stay the same?

When I was a kid, Easter meant dressing up, going to church, and having relatives visit. But for me, I confess, it was really about the candy. (In particular, I loved those neon-colored marshmallow chicks—I could eat a whole package in one sitting.)

Of course, once I grew up and became a nutritionist, I wasn’t about to let my own kiddos binge on all those artificial colors and flavors. But as a good Italian girl, I’m a big believer in holiday traditions—and in our family, Easter isn’t complete without Easter baskets and a good, old-fashioned Easter egg hunt.

So I tweaked the rituals a little. I filled my boys’ baskets with the healthiest treats I could find or make from scratch, along with non-candy treats like toys and books. Then I loaded half of the plastic eggs for our hunt with jelly beans, and stuffed the other half with coins and a few dollar bills.

I admit, I was a little worried about how my sons would react to me tinkering with tradition. But as it turned out, they were fine with their Easter baskets being less junky than their friends’ versions. (I guess you learn to expect this sort of thing when your mom is a nutritionist!) Better yet, they loved the new “money egg” idea.

In fact, the Easter egg hunts around my house got pretty intense once there was money on the line. Yes, my boys and all their cousins scattered across the yard looking for candy... but cold hard cash was what they really wanted.

I was thinking back on these memories the other day, and it made me laugh. Then it made me think about holiday traditions.

We all need to tinker with these traditions a bit as time goes by—and even when we’re doing it for a good reason, it can give us a little twinge. For instance, if you’re slimming down and getting healthy on my diet right now, I know you may be missing your Nonna’s famous Easter bread or your mom’s pastiera. Or if you grew up with the Standard American Easter Basket, you may be pining for Peeps and Cadbury Eggs.

But think back, and you’ll realize that the best holiday moments aren’t about food. For me, Easter brings back memories of watching that herd of kids chase after plastic eggs as if each one contained a million bucks. It reminds me of precious moments of spiritual renewal. Above all, it reminds me of how lucky I am to be part of a fun, crazy, love-you- no-matter- what family. And I know that it’s fine to tweak our Easter traditions to make them healthier, as long as we’re all together to enjoy them.

So this Easter, focus on the real treasures—not the chocolate and sugar and food coloring that you’re passing up, but the memories you’re making right now with the people you love.

And from my family to yours, Buona Pasqua—Happy Easter!