Easter is celebrated throughout the world for religious reasons, however, many people in the secular world use the holiday to usher in Spring. The main non-religious symbols of this celebration are the rabbit and the egg. Both are meant to represent fertility, as the season of Spring generally does. They symbolize the new beginnings and new life that is about to come.  We’ve always loved this idea as it dates back thousands and thousands of years, however being vegan, we weren’t such a fan of using actual eggs. And as environmentalists, we didn’t want to use chemical dyes or plastic eggs.

However, we have fond memories of Easter Egg hunts as children and remember the exhilaration of finding them hidden in your garden. So when we think of what traditions we will pass to our own children and how we want to represent fertility without hurting the Earth or animals, it gets complicated. We want to teach them to celebrate life and the season of Spring in a positive manner, yet still involve the childhood fun and amazement of a good old fashioned egg hunt.

What we decided upon was to keep the symbol of the egg, but vegan and naturalize it!  In craft stores, they sell wooden eggs which can be painted or dyed.  Even better if we could locate FSC certified sustainable wooden eggs, as the White House did this year.  Choosing plastic eggs is another possibility, however, they are generally made from petroleum and can’t easily be decorated. But on the plus side, they can be re-used the following year and can hide fun little gifts.

Once we decided to go the route of the wooden egg, we also want to avoid the typical chemical dyes and petroleum based paints and opted for a natural take. There are a variety of natural paints on the market to use, we love Unearthed, all vegan and natural.  We also found this uber helpful site which explained how to make dyes at home. Here is a run down of what to use for which color, click on the full article for exact instructions.

Gold: Handful of yellow onion skins
Yellow: 2 tablespoons turmeric or a handful of carrot tops
Green: Handful of coltsfoot
Blue: 2 cups chopped red cabbage (for best results, add cabbage to water while hard-boiling eggs)
Pink: 2 cups chopped beets
Purple: 1 cup frozen blueberries
Brown: 2 tablespoons coffee grounds or 4 black tea bags

After the wooden eggs are finished and naturally adorned, the next step was to teach the children how to respect the eggs as new life and not a food source. Traditionally, the eggs would now be hidden all over the yard or house, the children would find them, and proceed to eat them. Using a basket to collect them seemed to continue this idea. Building a nest within the basket or just by itself is a wonderful solution to this issue. The nest will symbolize the new life (eggs) how they would appear in nature, just waiting to hatch rather than be eaten by humans. For an even better effect, add  toy or wooden birds. Now when  the kids collect all their eggs, they will be returning them to Momma and Papa bird.

So there it is. It is possible to celebrate Spring, Easter, and new life, cruelty free and naturally. You can still use the idea of what eggs represent and have a fun, interactive way to teach children about the preciousness of life. Plus, now us vegans and environmentalists can still have our Easter egg or rather eggless hunt for generations! Happy Easter :)

Sufganiyot, the Hebrew name for jelly donuts eaten during the Jewish holiday of  Hanukkah. These tasty treats are extremely popular in Israel, but are eaten around the world in many a Jewish home.  Traditionally these jelly donuts, along with many other fried foods, are eaten to symbolize the oil which miraculously burned in Jerusalem. They are delightful treat to enjoy during the Festival of Lights or throughout the year. The best part, is these donuts are animal free and can be served to you health conscious and vegan guests.  Happy Hanukkah!

Vegan Jelly Donuts (Sufganiyot)

1 25 gram (1 ounce) package of Active Dry Yeast
3 Cups & 1 Tbsp Organic Flour
1/4 Cup of Organic Earth Balance
1/4 Cup & 1 Tbsp of Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
1 1/4 Cups Water
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Organic Seedless Raspberry Jam
2 Cups of Frying Oil (Canola recommended)

Organic Powdered Sugar for dusting

Mix the active dry yeast, 1 tsp of evaporated cane juice, and 1 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Let this stand for at least 5 minutes, it will begin to foam and smell yeasty. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. Add in the remaining 1/4 Cup of water and stir until dough-like. Melt the Earth Balance and add to this mixture. Knead the mixture together, adding flour or water as needed. Cover bowl and let the dough rise for about 1.5 hours.

Roll out the dough and cut round circles. Depending on how large you want the donuts, you can use a 2 inch cookie cutter or just a glass. Set aside the rounds and hit a skillet with the canola oil on medium-high. Fry each round for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown on each side. You will want to turn them occasionally. Once you remove them from the skillet, dust or roll them with powdered sugar on each side. Set aside to cool on a backing rack or plate. Once cooled, poke a small hole (a toothpick or skewer will help) in each donut. Inject raspberry jam with a pastry bag with the smallest tip. Warm them in the oven before serving.

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