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The Symbols of Easter and Passover: Honoring Tradition as well as Our Values

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Food-related rituals, particularly those involving animals, are likely to be so revered that they supersede consideration for anything or anyone else. Join me today for a discussion of how to honor the traditions of Easter and Passover while staying true to our values.

Eggs are the Symbols — Not the Meaning of Easter

Even after being vegan for 23 years and seeing lots of progress in the past two decades, I still encounter people who are incredulous that vegans can celebrate Easter without eggs. The implication is that in honoring our values we have to forgo tradition — as if these two things are mutually exclusive.

And yet, the food-related rituals we revere – such as boiling, coloring, hiding, and eating Easter eggs (for instance) — represent something much deeper: renewal and rebirth and regeneration and hope — which is what the EGGS at Easter really represent: hope — that life follows death, that spring follows winter, that hope follows despair.

And that’s the point: eggs are the symbol of these ideas. What’s more important than the symbol is the MEANING behind the symbol — rebirth, regeneration, renewal, hope, and life.

  • We can still use the egg as a symbol for life, birth, and hope, but instead of eggs from chickens, we can paint wooden or ceramic eggs, or use refillable plastic eggs and hide THEM at Easter Egg Hunts.
  • Better yet, a more apt symbol for spring would be a flower bulb. They’re more than just a symbol! They hold the promise of life, and they deliver!

And so, I’ve modified my traditions to reflect who I am and what I believe by using flowers or seeds or even ceramic eggs to signify life and rebirth, and none of that makes my observance of any holiday any less significant.

In fact, it makes it more consistent.

Focusing on the meaning rather than on the symbol means celebrating with family, friends, and community and centering our meal on foods that give life rather than take life. We can indeed adhere to traditions while honoring our values. We don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.

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Hi! I’m Colleen.

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