With the start of Passover, Christian’s Holy Week and Ramadan, the month of April includes three major religious observances.
CHRISTIAN HOLY WEEK – APRIL 10 to 17
Holy Week, one of the most sacred dates in the Christian calendar started this year on April 10 with Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey, where palm branches were strewn in his path.
Maunday Thursday commemorates the Last Supper (Passover feast). Jesus explains to his disciples during dinner that he will be betrayed, he will die and subsequently rise from the dead.
Following his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was then disavowed by Peter, betrayed by Judas, arrested and taken to the authorities.
Good Friday is the story of Jesus crucifixion and his subsequent death.
Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Christians believe that Jesus came to earth to save humanity. People are born with a sinful nature because of Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden of Eden. That means it’s impossible for us to be “good enough” to be in the presence of God and forgiven for our sins. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice for all people’s sins.
Easter falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, and typically is the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox.
According to Britannica, the English word Easter, which parallels the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin. One speculation is that Easter is derived from Eostre, or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.
Quite often there are Easter Egg hunts for the children, and generally large family dinners and celebrations.
PASSOVER APRIL 15 to 23:
Passover begins on the evening of April 15 this year and will last eight days. The festival always starts on the 15th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar which means that the date changes every year.
Passover comes from the biblical story in Exodus, in which the Jewish people and their leader Moses flee slavery in Egypt.
God told Moses that he planned to strike down the Egyptians and told him that the Israelites should slaughter lambs at a certain time and put the blood on the door frames of their homes. He would than know to “Passover” that home and that family, sparring them from death.
During the first night of Passover, a meal, a Seder is held. The story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt on Passover is read/told.
Seder plates hold the ceremonial foods, and each has a special meaning:
Karpas: A green vegetable, most often parsley, represents the initial flourishing of the Israelites during their first years in Egypt. A second cup is filled with saltwater, which the parsley is dipped into as a reminder of the tears shed during Egyptian slavery.
Charoset: Traditionally a ground mixture of apple, nuts and cinnamon bound together with wine or honey, charoset symbolizes the mortar used by Hebrew slaves to build Egyptian structures.
Maror: A bitter herb, usually horseradish, is used to represent the bitterness of slavery.
Zeroa: The shank bone, or zeroa, symbolizes the lamb offered as the Passover sacrifice in Biblical times.
Beitzah: A hard-boiled egg symbolizes sacrifices, spring and the renewal of life.
RAMADAN – APRIL 2 to MAY 2
Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar and this year it started on April 2 and will end on May 2. According to tradition, the holy book of the Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad during Ramadan. Muslims also believe that during this month the gates to heaven are open and the doors to hell are closed.
Ramadan is known as the holy month of fasting, with Muslims abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in sexual activity are all prohibited during the fast as well. In the Islam faith, the fast teaches discipline, sacrifice, mindfulness, reflection and empathy for those who are less fortunate.
It’s widely accepted by many Muslims that Ramadan it s time of hope, renewal and fresh starts.
On the evening on May 2, and for the three days following, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or the “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” Eid al-Fitr includes prayer, gifts and feasts.