A blog about the grief after losing a child to Niemann Pick, Type C, a rare disease, and how I'm moving forward with my life.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Religious Time of Year

Religion and politics are two topics of conversation that polarize many people because of strong beliefs by those involved. So I'm not getting into a religious discussion today.

However, this week is religiously important for two different faiths:

Jews: Passover (March 25-April 2)
Catholics: Easter (March 31)

Growing up I was fortunate to be able to participate in both faiths and celebrate both "holidays". And many times the Passover Seder fell on or around Good Friday. Some call it a coincidence, others call it divine involvement. But whatever it is, here is a bit about both events (information obtained from Wikipedia).

Passover is an important Biblically-derived Jewish festival. It is the first of Judaism's Three Pilgrimage Festivals , the other two being Shavuot ("Pentecost") and Sukkot ("Tabernacles").

The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharaohs, and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven days (in Israel) or eight days (in the diaspora). In Judaism, a "day" commences from dusk and lasts to the following day's dusk (approximately 24 hours), thus the first day of Passover only begins after dusk of the 14th of Nisan and ends at dusk of the 15th day of the month of Nisan. The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder when the 15th of Nisan has begun. In the Northern Hemisphere Passover takes place in spring as the Torah prescribes it: "in the month of [the] spring" Exodus 23:15). It is one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays.

The Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th day of Nisan begins on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox.


Easter is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are etymologically related or homonymous.  Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians.


So you can see how the two faiths and the holidays intertwine: both are in the spring and are tied to the full moon  after the spring (vernal) equinox.  So that leads me to the only question I am going to ask: Are we really all that different???

1 comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from my readers. Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by. :-)