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The rites of spring

Five spring traditions your family can treasure forever

Posted: 23 February 2011
by Kate Donoughue

1 Freshen up
Spring cleaning traditionally takes place when the weather is warm enough to open the windows and let the fresh air in. To make the task less daunting, break the task down in to small projects, and of course, many hands make light work. Turn it into a game, singing and dancing while you work like Mary Poppins, and your children will be surprisingly happy to help.

2 Let’s decorate
The different spring festivals each have their own symbols, which you can use to decorate your home. Green boughs, branches, spring flowers, bunnies, eggs, chicks and ducks can all be displayed. Find a spring branch with budding flowers and crush the bottom with a hammer so it will absorb water better. Place in a tall vase of water and decorate with tiny symbols of the season and ribbons in bows.

3 Celebrate the season
There are many spring holidays from many cultures you can celebrate. May Day, Easter, Passover the Buddhist New Year and St George’s Day offer many possibilities for fun activities and learning. Traditional May Day celebrations include Morris Dancing, crowning a May Queen and dancing around a Maypole. The oldest May Day celebration still taking place today is the Padstow ’Obby ‘Oss celebration in Cornwall. Dancing and celebrations take place throughout May Day and thousands of people come to see the two Hobby Horses The Old Oss and the Blue Ribbon Oss.

4 Go hunting
On Easter Day each year kit out your children in explorer outfits (safari hats and binoculars) or Sherlock Holmes-esque detective gear (pipes and magnifying glasses), provide a bucket each and set them loose in the garden where previously you have hidden many chocolate eggs large and small. Make some eggs easy to find, to keep enthusiasm levels high, but also make some harder to find otherwise the fun and games will be over before you’ve had time to make yourself a cup of tea. If you want to leave the hard work to others, over 230 National Trust properties are hosting Easter Trails with chocolate eggs as prizes on completion, and fun and games for participants. For further information, see www.eastereggtrails.co.uk

5 Get planting
Lots of flowers and vegetables can be planted in spring – and this can be a great yearly project for your children. Nasturtiums and sunflowers are both easy to grow and attract lots of insects to your garden. To ensure little hands have plenty of flowers to pick in the summer, make a wigwam frame and sow two sweet peas directly at the base of each cane. Good Friday is the day potatoes are traditionally planted. For best results, leave seed potatoes in an egg box (eyes pointing upwards) on a window sill for a few weeks or until leaves appear, make a few drainage holes in a plastic bag then fill one-third with compost. Plant two or three potatoes in the bag with the shoots pointing upwards. Cover with compost until the bag is half full, water and put outside in a sheltered place. After a few weeks, the shoots will have grown, so add more compost until the bag is nearly full. When the plants start flowering, the potatoes are ready to harvest and eat.

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