THOMASVILLE -- Students from Gary Wall's pre-kindergarten class at Peanut's Kiddie Kollege love Easter traditions.

Four-year-old Kacy Jones likes finding chocolate eggs and bunnies, her favorites, behind her grandmother's bushes.

Isabelle Medellin, also 4, said she once found five eggs during a hunt.

"I have my own blue basket," she said. She likes to collect lots of chocolate.

Chance Clark, 4, said he likes to decorate Easter eggs every year, especially blue and white ones

John Lamb, 5, said he thinks the Easter bunny is special.

"He brings toys and candy," he said.

All the children in the class are ready for another Easter to arrive this Sunday.

They will again be visited by the Easter bunny, who will bring them chocolate, cards and cake.

But where did the traditions of the Easter bunny and Easter eggs come from?

According to "The Easter Story: Origin of the Name" from the Web site inglewoodcarecentre.com, the first mention of the Easter bunny and his eggs came from Germany in the late 1500s.

"In many sections of Germany, the belief was the the Easter bunny laid red eggs on Holy Thursday and multi-colored eggs the night before Easter Sunday," according to the Web site.

Eggs were dyed red to signify the blood of Jesus Christ, the son of God.

"They were often colored red to represent the blood of Christ by which all believers were given a share in this new life of Christ."

Rabbits are a pre-Christian fertility symbol and were often used as images on Christ's post-resurrection appearances.

According to the book "Easter Bunny, Are You for Real?" by Harold Myra, the Easter bunny was a fable which grew from springtime events.

The fictitious father in the story gives his three children an explanation.

"While the early Christians celebrated Easter, others were celebrating springtime," he said. "After a cold, dark winter, the people were glad to see new leaves and flowers, and animals having babies -- kitten and chicks and foals -- and, yes, bunnies. Rabbit stories just grew out of that."

He told the children that the pagan traditions and the religious traditions were somehow mixed over the years.

"The confusion comes because the real Easter and all this springtime merriment got mixed together over the centuries," he said. "For hundreds of years, people have been hiding eggs and telling stories of how the Easter bunny burns wild flowers to make dye."

Although the traditions of decorating and finding Easter eggs are fun experiences, safety plays a key role in both events.

According to Krista Fabregas, founder of KidSmartLiving in Houston, old eggs should not be used for hunting.

"Because of their porous shells, Easter eggs can absorb germs and lawn chemicals," she said. "If an outdoor hunt is planned, consider preparing a second batch of eggs for hunting and later discard, or simply hide plastic eggs filled with goodies."

She also suggests using colorful tissue paper rather than plastic "grass" to fill baskets, especially with younger children.

Since many small candies can choke children under three years old, Fabregas suggests alternatives to the traditional jellybeans, chocolate eggs and marshmallow shapes.

"Treat little ones to iced animal crackers, shaped sugar cookies with colorful sprinkles, and large chocolate figures," she said.

However, she mentioned many chocolate products contain trace amounts of peanuts and to avoid them at all if children had food allergies.

These suggestions will help everyone in the household celebrate a safe, fun and enjoyable holiday.

So whether learning about the traditional Easter bunny, finding eggs hidden around the garden or just eating several different types of candy, the Easter traditions should be around for a long time.

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