How Am I "Supposed" to Do St. Pat's Day and Easter?

Updated on March 18, 2014
J.C. asks from Blacksburg, VA
32 answers

It seems that I am missing something when we celebrate St. Patrick's Day and Easter. Growing up, my parents gave us Easter Baskets. We jokingly talked about the Easter Bunny but never pretended he brought the baskets. So that is what I have done with my girls. But now my 6 YO is asking if the Easter Bunny will bring her basket this year. I already have mixed feelings about having to keep up the whole Santa story, knowing they'll find out the truth in a few years, and I really don't want to start this Easter Bunny thing. But I also don't want my daughter to "ruin" it for the other kids, just like I wouldn't want the other kids to "ruin" Santa for her yet. I don't even quite understand what the Easter Bunny is supposed to do - just leave the Easter basket? What do I do?

And this morning, my daughter searched the house to see what the leprechauns left her. She was disappointed that they hadn't come. What??? I was supposed to pretend leprechauns came this morning and left her --- what? She said she was looking for gold. Apparently I have missed/messed up on this holiday tradition, too. Can someone explain this one to me, too?


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answers from Seattle on

awe, you aren't "supposed" to do anything! We never do anything for St. Patrick's day. nothing.
Today the kids will go to school, I will go to the gym, meet a girlfriend, take boys to soccer, and have some kind of easy dinner.
I am not Irish.
It's like all those people that celebrate 5 de Mayo (even though no Mexicans celbrate it in Mexico!). It's just a reason to party!
Now, Easter baskets? My kids have always known we are the Easter bunny. We hide everything in the morning while they watch a show. Got nothing for ya there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I've just recently found out about this too. No way are leprechauns coming to this house.

Besides we entertain plenty of charming stories and such with fairies and gnomes. Love to celebrate May Day, Summer Solstice etc. with the kids but in an organic way. But it's a no go when it comes to this. We laughed about leprechauns today and talked about irish people and shamrocks and all. We made soda bread with dinner. And I told the story of Saint Patrick and why he used the shamrock as a way of teaching.

This is probably just another gimmick to get parents to buy.

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answers from Washington DC on

Thank goodness my kids never got the leprechaun memo! My cousin's kids set "traps" last night and my cousin put green dye in the toilet for leprechaun pee. Gross!
We're in the final stages of Santa, Easter Bunny, and tooth fairy. I am so exhausted from some health issues that I can't set another alarm to get up and hide something on behalf of one more legendary benefactor. The good news is that it is a short window before they no longer believe (my 8 year old is already skeptical).

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answers from New York on

When my son was in kindergarten, his (very young, well-meaning) teacher told all the kids that leprechauns would leave them gold coins -- without giving any of the parents a heads-up! I scrambled, and by some miracle found some unused Hanukkah gelt. So the (Irish Catholic?) leprechauns left little Kosher candies, wrapped in gold and silver foil, with Jewish stars on them, all over our house. :)

It wound up being fun, if last-minute, and we made it part of our own religion. I can't advise you at all on Easter, but in general, I think it's fine to pick and choose from a holiday, and not to keep up with the Jonses. Maybe a mini-basket, to fulfill her expectations, but don't go over the top? The tradition of dying eggs -- rather than buying plastic ones -- always seemed pretty, but oy! what do I know? ;)

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answers from Los Angeles on

My mom is a devout Catholic, however, she is a fun, loving mom.
She not only instilled religion in our childhoods but she employed diff
traditions to make life fun.
She decorated for each holiday, made heart shaped cookies for Valentine's Day, left chocolate gold coins for us on St. Patrick's day, really went all out for our birthdays, her & my dad played up Santa
What was the take away for us kids? A fun life filled with surprises.
Why is that important today?
As we age there are so few surprises left (having your boyfriend propose
marriage, the sex of your baby if you so choose, etc). that I revel in the
memories & want to do the same for my kids.
I decorate for the holidays, have little traditions etc.
I strive to make things fun as my parents did.
It's not that much work for me & it's fun.
You don't have to do much or spoil kids but you can provide a little magic
in a life that can sometimes be difficult or stressful.
Throw out a few shamrock cut outs (make them yourself from construction paper, pick up a little bag of gold foil wrapped choc coins & hide them for your kids later when they get home.
Again, my mom laid the foundation of what it was to be a good person (do the right thing, help others), taught us manners, brought us up to be independent contributing citizens and still found a way to make some days different than others. I am indebited to her for all these things & will pass these onto our kids.
Teach, provide an example, go to church (if you do that), make a meal.
Easter Bunny just leaves the basket (he can hide a few plastic eggs w/sm
treats or coins around the living room too for them to find)
St. Patrick's day (few shamrocks, gold coins)
Valentine's (few heart cut outs, streamer or two, little heart box of choc
4th of July (red, white, blue streamers, flags)
Teach what Memorial Day & Labor Day are for etc.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Another Irish Catholic here!

My oldest is 7 and in first grade. The first time I ever heard anything about St. Patrick's Day (other than wear green or you might bet pinched, "Luck of the Irish," Erin Go Bragh," etc.) was when he started preschool. At his school the Leprechauns do silly things like turn their milk green and arrange some of the toys in silly ways. Silly, innocent pranks.

I think a lot of the stuff we're hearing is because schools are more and more getting into the spirit of things and trying to be more creative. My son has a "Lucky LIstener" that he has to do every week. It's a poem or short reading he's supposed to read out loud to us. Most of hte time their fairly boring but have new words. But sometimes they are more festive. He's done one on Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, jr., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Leprechauns.

There is the commercialism. I wonder of some parents in your school buy those chocolate, gold coins and hide them around the house?

If you want to start a tradition, great. If not, no biggy! But definitely try not to worry about what you're "supposed to do." You are supposed to raise happy, healthy kids that turn into happy, healthy adults. What you do along the way to make things fun is entirely up to you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

We don't usually do much of anything for St. Patrick's Day - just wear green. It's never been a big deal to us. This year I was feeling festive and planned an all-green dinner for tonight: green eggs and ham (the green eggs are deviled eggs made with avocado, mayo, yolks and some garlic salt and bacon crumbles - yum!, and the ham isn't green but goes with the green eggs and ham bit), a green salad with green peppers, cukes, etc, either green beans or steamed broccoli, pistachio pudding and for dessert, mint choc chip ice cream.
For Easter, the girls help me put the baskets out the night before at the table, according to where everyone sits - we all have our own baskets. They put grass in them, and when they've gone to sleep, I put some candy and maybe a small toy or trinket in them for them to find in the morning. Most years my hubby and I will hide some plastic eggs in the back yard or around the house for them to find and if we feel like it we'll color some eggs, but we don't every year. I never hide the real eggs. There have been too many years where we've found a plastic egg 6 or 8 months after Easter and I can only imagine if that had been a real one! Ewww!

Do what you want and don't feel pressured to do anything over the top.

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answers from Grand Forks on

We celebrate St. Patricks day by wearing green. There are no gifts or gold involved here!

The Easter bunny comes and leaves an Easter basket and hides plastic eggs filled with candy so the kids can do an egg hunt.

In our house Santa and the Easter bunny are fun traditions. The kids enjoy it, and watching their enjoyment makes me happy. They eventually figure it out that it is make believe, but continue to play along because it is a fun tradition. We also celebrate the real meanings of these holidays in church, but this makes it more fun.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

There is no "supposed to" when it comes to celebrating (or opting not to celebrate) holidays. You do what is right for YOUR family, and teach your kids that other people do/believe things differently, and that it is rude to tell other kids that their magical beings aren't real.

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answers from Norfolk on

For us, St Paddy's Day is about wearing something green and having corned beef for making Reubens.
Yes, I'm totally aware that they don't eat corned beef in Ireland but I'm not use to doing a lamb dish for the holiday.
There are NO GIFTS and NO CANDY.

For Easter, a few plastic eggs with a little candy or a few coins get hidden around the house and child enjoys looking for them.
There are NO GIFTS and we try to keep it to VERY LITTLE CANDY.

In our house gifts are for birthday and Christmas and occasionally at the end of the school year for really good grades.

I suppose you could hide a few chocolate foil wrapped 'coins' in a few places - but do we REALLY need to work candy in to every single little holiday observance that comes along?

Halloween, Christmas and Easter are mega sugar laden as it is.
Just walking past the candy displays in the stores is enough to send anyone into diabetic shock.
Do what ever you want to do BUT you are TOTALLY ALLOWED to set your own limits and traditions.

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answers from Los Angeles on

St. Patrick's Day - wear green if you want. No other celebration needed. I think it's crazy to do an elaborate setup and pretend leprechauns came to visit. Kids don't need that.

Easter - since you haven't done the Easter Bunny in the past, I wouldn't start it now. Remind your daughter that she knows you give her the baskets. Tell her how much fun you have picking out special treats for her. You don't need to say that the Bunny isn't real. If you're worried about her telling her friends, you can say that each family gets to make a choice - some choose for the Bunny to come and others choose to create the special baskets themselves.

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answers from Richland on

I think your daughter made up the St Patrick's day thing. Never have I heard of leaving gold around the house.

Easter basket just appears Easter morning kind of like santa gifts

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answers from Boston on

LOL I don't do the leprechauns leaving (candy? presents?) thing either...and I'm almost 100% Irish and growing up, we didn't do that either and neither did any family I knew, and I grew up in an overwhelmingly Irish-American community. So I think that's just something that people recently made up. And we don't participate. So for us, St. Patrick's Day now is about having dinner with my parents and siblings the closest weekend to the day (so yesterday) and we make it a traditional boiled dinner. I hang my Shamrock/spring wreath on the door and my younger kids will wear Celtics jerseys to school. When I was a kid, it was a bigger deal because I went to a Catholic school that had an elaborate "wearing o' the green" contest and my town had a big parade, and my sisters and I were all step dancers so we were usually booked to perform in a parade or other celebration.

Easter? As a Catholic, it's about the Resurrection. I give the kids baskets, and when they were younger we pretended that the Easter Bunny brought the baskets but didn't go crazy with that whole story line. Our baskets have a few treats but are pretty modest and usually included spring toys (buckets and shovels, kites, wiffleball bats, etc. - the things that need to get replenished anyway), a little candy, a crunchy/salty snack, and things like a book, or nail polish, etc. We have a nice breakfast, get dressed up and go to Mass, then have a nice dinner with my family at my parents' house and then gather with my dad's extended family later. It's really about family and faith and not the Easter bunny.

I would do whatever feels comfortable for you and your family. Don't buy into the commercialization of every holiday.

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answers from Chicago on

My oldest too wanted to know what the leprechauns left her. I have no clue where she got this idea. I told her we were having an irish dinner of bangers and mash, she wasn't happy.

I homeschool, so she didn't get this at school!

we do easter. My daughter knows it's just me. Hell, she also knows I'm Santa. She's known since she was like 3. She just figured it out. Too smart for her own good!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

My policy is honesty. My children can have imaginations all they want. That doesn't mean I have to lie to them. But then again I celebrate very few "holidays". Unless you're religious, and therefore celebrate in a religious context, then all the holidays serve no purpose. Except to sell candy and stuffed animals. Which I can buy at any point throughout the year.

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answers from New York on

We are neither Irish, nor Catholic, but raised in NY, and my family puts on corned beef, cabbage and potatoes every year. We also celebrate chinese new year, and other holidays (why not).

My DS is 3.5 years old. Yesterday, we sought out green iced cupcakes at stop & shop to take to the corned beef feast at my uncles house. We told DS that it was St. Patrick's Day. That St. Patrick was a nice man. That he helped people by sending the snakes away, and that snakes might bite you, also he liked green. We had planned to, but forgot to sing "Happy St. Patrick's day to you." Today I dressed him in green. I don't know if he's been taught about leprechauns, pots of gold, or gold chocolate. I wouldn't be opposed to a little bit of that.

At Easter we dye eggs. We also do an egg hunt in the back garden with all the cousins and a couple of baskets that we re-use if they hold up. The kids extend the game by taking turns hiding the eggs then playing hot and cold till "it" finds all that have been set out.

Best to you,
F. B.

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answers from Portland on

If it's any consolation, we aren't doing anything for St Patricks day, other than telling Kiddo to wear green so he won't get pinched.

I don't think there is ANY absolute tradition on St Paddy's. My mom was Irish, so I'm pretty sure we would have been treated to something special if there were such a tradition. That said, sometimes teachers (both preschool/grade school) will set things up to make it appear that a leprechaun has visited ... usually I've heard of glitter trails here and there, but gold? no.

Easter basket? We do that one. Easter bunny comes sometime and leaves a basket of little gifts, something fun and small, and a small treat. We usually did a few plastic eggs with some peanut m&ms in them, a small activity book, some bubbles, maybe a packet of seeds (we do a lot of planting)...Families all do what works for them. Chances are, too, your girls might see the gigantic Easter baskets at the store. We dye eggs and hide them out in the garden, too. Our 'easter bunny' comes 'overnight', leaves a basket for kiddo to find in the morning. That's about it.

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answers from Huntington on

Mama Llama,
I think a lot of the "blame" for this can be put on Pinterest. I think that parents see that other parents may be celebrating holidays in a certain way and feel like they have to match that or up the ante. It feels like this is a bit of a recent development. The last few years everyone is suddenly doing an Elf-on-the-Shelf tradition at Christmas and all sorts of other extras.
Anyway. I think that you just need to do what YOU want to do. Our family DOES celebrate St. Patrick's Day but that is simply because I personally find that kind of thing fun. I will tell you that starting a celebration does set up an expectation that it will continue every year, so that is hard.

Perhaps you can go simple and just spend a few minutes tonight talking about who St. Patrick is and what St. Patrick's Day is about. You can explain that generally, most people just wear green and in some places there is a parade. Leprechauns do not leave gold- the legends say they are notorious for protecting their gold stash at all costs!

If you want to do more than that, there are certainly lots of fun ideas online, but I would suggest that 1- you only do what you feel comfortable with and keep in mind kids do start to expect it every year , and 2-don't just do it because her classmates have that tradition.

When we were kids, my mom simply packed us a green lunch (green jello, green drink, green rice krispie square, cucumber slices, possibly a green sandwich - she did find green bread one year, it was horrendous looking, ha ha! ) Our family does do a leprechaun but he writes notes or jokes, plays tricks, and we set traps to try to catch him all day, and we do green breakfast (lots of food coloring involved) and a traditional Irish dinner. And again, that is just because it is fun for ME and the kids, otherwise I would not be doing it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Is the daughter who hunted for leprechaun gold old enough to be in kindergarten or even preschool? I ask because I found when my girl was in K that suddenly St. Patrick's Day was all about a leprechaun visit to the classrooms -- the kids would be out at music or gym and return to find chairs tipped over etc. and gold "coins" scattered around, and so on. My child didn't expect it at home, fortunately!, but I think it could have made your daughter expect something to happen at home, if there had been a lot of talk or activities about leprechauns at her school or preschool.

We are not Irish and don't do anything at all at home on St. Patrick's Day. Never have, don't expect we ever will -- nothing against it, it's just never been on my radar or my husband's at all.

As for Easter, some families go all-out "Easter Bunny is real" as if the bunny's a second Santa. I think that's overdoing it. But again, your child has probably heard this from other kids, and you'd better get used to that -- in the early grades they really do come home expecting that what they hear other kids talking about THEIR families doing is what will happen at their own homes too. Same with Christmas, especially. I would just do a basket (because they're plain fun) and when she says "Did the bunny bring it" just give her a knowing look and say something like "However it got here, isn't that toy rabbit cute?!....." She is going to assume the bunny brought it - you can't stop that. But as with Santa, let it go. We never said Santa brought gifts; we just shrugged and said, "Oh, my, that wasn't here when you went to bed last night..." and our daughter was cool with that mystery and didn't pry into it. I think she always realized it was mom and dad helping out Santa so she didn't ask a lot of questions but just enjoyed herself.

If you mean it seriously when you say "I have missed/messed up on this holiday tradition" -- and I hope you're saying that tongue-in-cheek? -- please don't be bugged. Do what you want and don't buy into the "dye your milk and beer green" stuff and buying junky things just because it's March 17 and the party stores and drugstores make you feel you must participate....With Easter, for us, it's a religious holiday that we celebrate for that reason and the basket is a way to mark that the day is special but is not the reason for the day. We don't do a heap of stuff for the basket either.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I've never heard of a leprechaun leaving gold!
I never got leprechaun gold. Neither has my son.
He DID wear a green shirt to school today. Lol
EB hides the basket. (My sons 11 now, so the "jig is up" as they say, but he'll still get a basket this year.
When I was a kid and the dog factor was not in play, sometimes the EV would leave a trail of jelly beans out the door.

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answers from New York on

All I do for St. Patrick's Day is make sure my kids have something green on.

A friend of mine does elaborate pranks by the leprechaun all around her house, but she also goes crazy with Elf on the Shelf at Christmas, which I refuse to do (last thing I need is MORE mess to clean up).

But I have to admit I'm somewhat dreading getting up at an ungodly hour to stash Easter eggs in the back yard. And dang it - my daughter has a tooth in her tooth fairy pillow I have forgotten to put money in for (guess I better slip that in before I wake her). So I am a little ready for my existing surprises to end, and I wonder if I will be sad when they do. But no way wouldi be adding anything else to the list.

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answers from Boston on

Just approach St. Pat's with a sense of celebration. Green food coloring in the milk for supper. (She can even make it herself, using blue and yellow drops.) A little Irish music on the radio. Rainbow sprinkles on pancakes, ice cream, etc. Plant seeds for green signs of life. Buy dafoddils at the supemarket as a sign of new life. Take a walk outside and search for a rainbow. No rainbow... no pot of gold! :)

As for Easter, keep it light and follow her lead. If she asks for the Easter Bunny, just say that you're waiting to see what will happen Easter morn yourself! At this transitional age, the mystery of it all is half the fun!

No worries, just lighthearted celebrating. Then it's easy to adjust to the truth as she gets older that lots of our approach to holidays is of our own making, whether it be secular or religious. We decide which customs to use year after year to acknowledge and celebrate family and/or religious traditions.

Hoping you have a great day.

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answers from Chattanooga on

Huh. The only thing we do for St. Patricks is leprechaun pranks.

This morning they turned the milk green, and left little footprints on the counters. ;) nothing too crazy or over-the-top. (Last year my daughter got a kick out of green tic-tacs floating in the toilet... Leprechaun poo. Lol.) it doesn't mean a thing to us though... Just an excuse to do something fun and out of the ordinary.

For Easter, all the Easter Bunny does is hide the eggs we decorated the night before, and add a few (with candy in them) of his own. Any gifts we do are usually meant to be played with outside, and are for the whole family to enjoy together... So we don't really bother to pretend that the E.B. brought them for her. We are a non-religious family, so Easter is a celebration of Spring, anticipation for Summer, and all the new life it brings. :)

Though, we don't really go to any lengths to keep the characters real. My Dd is 4, and already she has figured out that "believing" Santa is more of a holiday game than an actual person. I'm fine with that... She gets the magic of the holiday, without us having to stress about it. :)

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answers from Seattle on

Maybe she got the gold from the pot o' gold at the end of the rainwbow? And thinks there is a morning tradition like Santa gifts and Easter Bakset.

We just wear green so we don't get pinched, but we pinch each other anyways.

And I used to make corned beef with Colcannon...but the corned beef the last few years was full of nitrates that it made me sick.

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answers from Chicago on

I am now doing the leprechaun thing at home, because the school does it, and my children's classmates have him visit their house. This is not a tradition I grew up with either. @Sadie, I have 3 kids and they've all been at the same Catholic school since my oldest was in PK-3. She's now in 6th grade. They did the leprechaun when she was 3, and are still doing it.

I went out and bought 20 cold coins(chocolate), then this morning before everyone got up, I made a mess in the living room, and scattered the gold coins all over the floor. I refused to do glitter like they do at school though. My younger two were thrilled, so I guess it was worth it.

In our house, and when I was growing up, the Easter bunny comes and hides the eggs for the kids to find, and leaves the Easter baskets.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Mama:

We have become a materialistic society. It is all about things, how much we get, how much we want, and what everyone else has.

Are there women who teach their children about character building and doing the right thing anymore? What about the other thing of giving to those children who have nothing?

What kind of spiritual lessons are being taught in your home?
The Easter season is about sacrificing for what you believe in to make the world a better place to live for not only your family but also for your community.
Good luck.

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answers from Detroit on

My grandmother was Irish Catholic. She didn't have any traditions-but would sometimes tease us and ask if we found any gold. She did always cook a big meal and invite the whole family over (she had 8 kids so there were a lot of grandkids). She always explained that the gold at the end of the rainbow is a metaphor about life. We should strive to find or create our own gold. So, I do cook a big meal. We also make Irish soda bread, shortbread, or cookies and give them to others.
We do Easter baskets. We talk about the Easter bunny, but my kids know what Easter is really about. The baskets and egg hunts are jff. I have friends that make bunny prints with flour in the carpet. I don't go that far!



answers from Santa Barbara on

Could someone with mixed aged kids let us know when this started at school. I grew up in an Irish Catholic home with Catholic school. The leprechaun never made a visit at home or school. Did pinterst start this (lol)? We did wear green and get a shamrock shake from McDonalds.

My 7 year old has always been exposed to the messy leprechaun and I have actually played along (thankfully preschool gave me heads up a few years ago).

Did the mainstream of the leprechaun start when elf on the shelve did, or do parents of teens recall messing the house up and leaving gold as part of a normal childhood? edit: when I mean 'normal' I mean each child had to make a trap at school so each child is exposed to this regardless of the home life.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Never heard of them leaving one to me.

We haven't been consistent with any holiday except Christmas. When the kids figured out Santa wasn't real they figured out all the rest so we just don't do them any more. The kids do love hunting Easter Eggs though and we do that. I get the ones that already have candy in them so it's super easy for me.


answers from Washington DC on

i don't understand why your daughter was expecting presents from leprechauns if that's not what your family usually does.
just keep the easter basket thing light. 'oh, i'm sure he will' is really the only answer she needs. if she asks outright, then tell her the truth and enlist her help in keeping the story alive for other kids, just as you'd do for santa.
what does it matter what other people do? it sounds as if your family has been fine up to this point doing it YOUR way. why are your kids suddenly expecting things to be done differently?



answers from Richmond on

If it makes you feel any better, my son ran around this morning looking in all of the toilets to see if the Leprechauns dyed the water green. I had no clue people did all of this stuff. I just wear something green and call it a day! This was the first year I did corned beef and cabbage and that was only b/c it was so cheap at the store! LOL I did feel a little bad but oh well.

For Easter, I do put out Easter baskets the night before. As with Santa, I tell him the Easter Bunny brings them but that Mama and Papa also buy him gifts so it's a combination of what the EB brought and what we got him. I had to do this since he REFUSES to sit on the EB or Santa's lap and tell them what he wants and he asked me one year how they knew just what to get. The "magic" of them just knowing was not going to fly with him. Darn inquisitive, suspicious kid! :) I don't do the whole eggs left by the bunny thing - we hide the eggs later and do an egg hunt but we're up front that we bought them and hid them. I'm not running around my yard in the middle of the night hiding eggs!



answers from Washington DC on

You do what you want to be the tradition. If you choose not to employ the Easter Bunny, at least tell your kid not to ruin it for any other kid. My DD doesn't get anything for St. Patrick's Day. We wear green. We might listen to some Irish music. My cousin's kids build a "leprechaun trap" and I'm not sure what that entails. In preschool DD and her class chased down a leprechan and found his gold (chocolate) coins but DD never did it here.

I do employ the EB and he leaves a basket and some plastic eggs (just 12) for DD to find in the morning. In our home, the basket and 12 eggs are hidden in the house and the eggs have candy in them, and the basket is mostly trinkets and small toys. We don't do Easter Grass because that's messy and we have cats. My sister reuses the baskets and to this point I have not. Some people have the EB leave the colored/dyed eggs in the yard. The way this winter is going, they'd be easy to the snow. :P In our house, we dye them and then eat them ourselves. No hiding.

You can tell her that it seems the leprechauns didn't want to share. I wouldn't make a big deal of it. Not every house has leprechauns or the Elf on a Shelf.

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