Across cultures, religions and traditions, human beings celebrate.
We have seen many holiday opportunities pass without our traditional celebrations in the last year. As vaccinations increase, we may be peaking out and trying to do it a little differently, with small, safe family groupings. Still not what we are used to–but improving.
This month, three significant religious celebrations occur. Jews are wrapping up Passover on the 4th, while Christians sing Alleluia for Easter. And Muslims begin their fast for Ramadan on April 12. Each holiday has its unique features while all reflect the human need to come together and celebrate.
Interestingly, all three celebrations have their aspects of shared meals. For Passover, of course, the meal–the Seder–is central. Families and friends gather and read a Haggadah, remembering the story of the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Though Easter does not religiously require a particular type of meal, many Christians observe some kind of fast during Lent prior to Easter, so Easter marks a moment of returning to favorite foods that have been missed. And for many families–and our own fellowship–Easter has often been a time to gather for a large meal of ham, boiled eggs, and all the fixings. Fasting is the focus of Ramadan. While that would seem contrary to the spirit of shared food, it’s not! The fast only lasts until sunset, and the breaking of the fast (iftar) is often a big party.
Each holiday, though, has its particularities. Too often, Christians view the Jewish Passover as only a preface to Easter, thinking of it as Jesus’ celebration of the Last Supper. Jews, though, see Passover as an affirmation as their particular identity, as people who have overcome oppression and look together towards the future (“Next year in Jerusalem” is the closing toast). The tensions between these two religious peoples have fueled anti-Semitism and still influence our nation’s foreign policy.
Ramadan marks the revelation of the Qur’an to Mohammad. The Qur’an is not just a book to Muslims, not even just a scripture. For Muslims, the Qur’an is more like Jesus is to Christians, than it is like the New Testament. Mohammad is only a messenger, less significant than the book he brought to being. So celebration of receiving the Qur’an matters a great deal. For Christians, of course, Easter hails the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, a concept that most UU’s doubt. Much of the cultural celebration remains for many of us, though, as we rejoice in the spring and hunt Easter eggs. It is a reminder of our roots in Christianity.
So, even though we may not be able to do it closely or in person, we wish our neighbors and friends:
Chag Pesach Sameach – Happy Passover Festival
Ramadan Mubarak – Blessed Ramadan
And of course: Happy Easter.
May all our festivals be true celebrations this year and always!
Contact Rev Jonalu Johnstone at firstname.lastname@example.org.