Tradition is defined as:
The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.
Man, if I had a nickel for every time I heard the word “tradition” around holiday time, multiplied by my days on this earth thus far, I would be rich! Well, maybe not rich considering the cost of living and the peckish health of the Canadian dollar at this moment, but a little bit richer, monetarily speaking. People, myself included, trot out all the standard “have to haves” when it comes time to planning the family celebration, whatever one’s religion, ethnicity and/or background and most of all TRADITION which at this time of year, some of us put in an Easter basket filled with straw, tied up up with a pink polka dot bow .
This is the way my mother used to do it.
We always have hot cross buns at breakfast.
The ham has to have pineapple and cherries on top.
Easter isn’t the same without painted chicken eggs hidden for the children to find (you know, the kind you are afraid to forget behind the sofa).
Do these “gotta haves” look familiar? We get so lost in the dogma of things having to be just as they always were, that we probably lose some of the joy that naturally bubbles up from our very hearts when we spend special time with those we love, whether family or friend.
Does it have to be this way?
Who said so?
Was it the holiday police?
If we stopped to think for a minute, we might realize that starting a new tradition of changing it up every year can also be fun. We might understand that we are not losing out, but rather gaining the ability to be flexible, to be gay, to be spontaneous, to be trail blazers as we throw off the shackles of “doing things as they have always been done”. And I don’t say this lightly because I was a slave to tradition, to maintaining the status quo, to trying to recapture the feelings of the past in which I would witness my mother bustling about at holiday time.
Looking back, I now know that the meal and the baskets and the Easter eggs were prepared out of love, but were not of love. The linen covered table and fancy dishes were laden with the bodies and secretions of animals murdered in a misguided celebration of what we like to think of as a new beginning, a rebirth. I now imagine the ghosts of these poor animals hovering over the table as we ate and laughed and Oohed! and Aw-ed! over delectable dishes, the brutal taste of which was masked by brown sugar, icing, butter, spices, herbs, raisins and brandy.
We reveled in our Easter best, the boys in shirts and ties and the girls in frilly dresses with the fancy tights and shiny patent leather shoes. Our Easter baskets which were filled with milk chocolate bunnies, gelatin containing jelly beans and stinky chickens’ eggs, waited patiently for us in our bedrooms. The shells of the colored eggs had been peeled away to reveal rivulets of Easter blue, pink and green staining the jelly like surface of the once liquid whites, reminding me of sand on a beach after a hard and fast torrent of rain.
For years, I tried desperately to recapture all of this to honor my mother and her hard work and sacrifice for us. I did it for my children, wanting to pass on the memory of love that exists in my own heart and I did it for myself. But that all slowly fell apart after becoming vegan and realizing that honoring a tradition is more about the people than the food, the baubles and the bows, more about the process than the end result, more about all life, rather than just human life.
There is an ever present and devastating cost to our peculiar habit of hanging on to the tradition of using animals for our wants, not needs. Let’s think about the baby chicks for a moment.
The global egg industry destroys 6,000,000,000 newborn male chicks every year.
Male chicks born to egg-laying hens can not lay eggs, and are not the breed used for meat. Hatcheries separate males from females through a process known as “sexing.” Since males are worthless to the egg industry, they are disposed of like trash, either suffocated to death or ground up alive in large industrial macerators.
And then there is the issue of little baby chicks being dyed for the Ooh! – Aww! factor which , simply put, is totally unnecessary and harmful.
True love and peaceful tradition can never be born of violence and disrespect. It is simply not sustainable in the long term. We become slaves to what was because we cannot face the truth about our choices. We hide in the comfort of knowing at a sub conscious level, that we did not create the traditions. Rather, we tell ourselves that we are simply following them, supposedly out of love and respect for our ancestors. We invite emotional, psychological and physical turmoil and discord into our lives when we unwittingly exploit non human animals for our traditions and hijacked palates.
Annie’s Vegan View
If you are vegan, share the word that it does not have to be and must not be this way.
If you are not vegan, reconsider your choices.
Let us all choose Ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence toward all living things.
May all beings be happy and free.