I was reading through some of our past posts and realized that they have been very focused on Jewish holidays, but then realized that’s because there are so many more Jewish holidays than Christian ones! While there are only two major Christian holidays (Easter, which is tomorrow, and Christmas), there are more than half a dozen Jewish holidays that Keith and I celebrate: Shabbat—yup, considered a holiday—Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Simchat Torah, Purim, Pesach/Passover—of which we are in the sixth day.
Peeps–always an Easter Basket staple that rarely got eaten
I enjoy celebrating most of these holidays, but I have to admit that I get the short end of the stick on the number of them! (Not that I think we have time to celebrate any more than we do.) Christmas at least seems like it lasts for several weeks, but Easter always seems to come and go so quickly, since I don’t really observe Lent anymore. When I went to Catholic church (up until about 6th grade, after which we started attended Methodist church—my Dad is Catholic, and my mom is Methodist) my family always celebrated Lent—the six weeks leading up to Easter—by going to mass on Ash Wednesday, not eating meat on Fridays, and giving up something for Lent. I remember feeling annoyed that we couldn’t eat meat just one day a week! I wonder how I would have felt as a child not being able to eat bread for a week, like Keith and I are doing now for Passover (well, I’m doing it at home, while Keith follows it all throughout Passover). I also remember Palm Sunday being a joyous occasion where we all got palms in church and I would fold them into crosses during the service, followed by the sadness of Good Friday, and then the happiness of Easter.
On and around Easter, I always looked forward to dying Easter eggs, wearing a new spring dress on Easter Sunday, going to my Mom-mom’s house after church for Easter egg hunting with my sister and cousins, followed by having a big Easter feast. I hope to do all of those things once we have kids one day.
Now that I’m older and identify myself Protestant, some years I’ll give up something for Lent, but not usually, and I no longer avoid meat on Fridays for the sake of Lent. On Easter Sunday, we now go to church with my family, then go to their place for a big lunch. Since Passover usually overlaps with Easter, and Keith keeps kosher for Passover, it was a challenge at first as to how he could keep a kosher for Passover diet and eat at my parent’s house for Easter. My parents have been very accommodating and every year that Passover falls on Easter, they use disposable dishware, we bring a side dish and a dessert to share with everyone, and we bring a separate main dish for Keith. When I think about it, it’s actually funny that Christians don’t keep kosher for Passover on Easter, since the last meal that Jesus ate was most likely during Passover.
Church on Easter has been somewhat of a challenge in the past as well, particularly the sermons. Keith usually goes with me to church on Christmas and Easter, at least two years the sermon at the church where we attended for Easter were particularly uncomfortable. One that sticks out in my mind is when the minister mentioned how he felt bad when he went to funerals of people of other religions because they didn’t have the joy of knowing that their loved ones could be in Heaven. Not only is this inaccurate (when he studied other religions in becoming ordained he would have learned that a belief in an afterlife is a belief shared by other religions), but it was it was offensive to Keith and anyone in the congregation may have been of a different religion.
Believe it or not, there is a history of Jews feeling uncomfortable around Easter, going back to the Bible verses implying that the Jews killed Jesus. Fortunately, I never was taught this concept in all of my years of attending both Catholic and Protestant church services, Sunday School, youth group meetings, and bible studies. However, I don’t doubt that other Christians around the world have been taught this, especially in years past.
While it took several years for me to be comfortable celebrating Yom Kippur, Easter is one of the more challenging holidays for Keith to celebrate, and I don’t think he will ever be completely comfortable in an Easter church service. But we look at it more about supporting each other by participating in each other’s holidays than necessarily finding any spiritual meaning in the services.