Easter is a Christian festival while Passover is a Jewish celebration. However, there are a lot of similarities in the idea behind these celebrations. Both the celebrations commemorate deliverance. The Jews celebrate the liberation of the Israelites from slavery imposed upon them by the Pharaoh. But the Christians celebrate Easter to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in order to deliver humanity from sins. Both festivals celebrate hope and it is only appropriate that these celebrations come in the beginning of the spring season.
The date of Easter is set on the first Sunday after the full moon following Vernal Equinox. The Jewish festival of Passover starts on the 15th of Nissan, a Hebrew month. However, these two festivals mostly coincide with each other.
Passover is celebrated by Jews and some Christians. But they celebrate in two different ways. The Christians celebrate imitating the Last supper Jesus Christ had given to his disciples and revealed to them the importance of his sacrifice. He had informed them that his flesh will be broken for them and his blood will be poured out for them. Thus he would serve as the sacrificial lamb for delivering humanity from their sins. Christians use unleavened bread to represent Jesus’ sinless body, as they believe that the leavened bread represent the body puffed up by sins.
As far as the Jews are concerned, Passover is an important milestone in the history of their people. This festival celebrates the Glory of God as expressed to his chosen people, the Israelites. He had helped Moses to lead them to safety by splitting the red sea.
The Jewish festival of Passover is an eight day concern. The first and last two days are full of rituals and rites. The celebrations start with a ceremonial searching for the leavened food stuff in the houses on the previous day of the holidays, followed by another ceremony in the next morning in which they are destroyed.
During these first and last two days they do not do any work, drive or work electrical appliances. The last two days are celebrated in the memory of splitting of the Red sea.
The ceremonial meal called Seder is the main part of the Passover celebration. It is a fifteen-step family tradition full of rituals. Eating of bitter herbs to remember the hardships their people suffered in the slavery and drinking of wine and grape juice to celebrate the new freedom are two of them. Apart from these, the recitation of Haggadah, for the small children, in order to familiarize them with the details of their past, is considered to be obligatory during this festival.
The Seder plate contains a lot of symbolic food, besides other sumptuous items. The bitter herbs and lettuce symbolize the bitterness of slavery, a paste made of apples, nuts and wine represent the mortar used by the Israelites to build pyramids and root vegetables like boiled potatoes stand for hard labor. The shank bone of a lamb or goat on the plate denotes the sacrificial lamb and the egg on the plate signifies the offering in the temples. There will be a bowl of salt water to dip the boiled roots and the unleavened bread is served on a separate plate. It represents the unleavened bread eaten by the Israelites when they left Egypt.
The first and last two days are observed as complete holidays, while they are allowed to work during the middle four days.
Easter has a history of being the fertility festival named after the Babylonian Fertility Goddess Istar. The Easter egg is the symbol of fertility.
However, Easter is celebrated by the Christians to honor the noble sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He had sacrificed himself to atone for the collective sin of humanity, thus delivering them from their sins. The Good Friday is the day on which Christ had died. In most of the countries the Christians eat bitter herbs to participate symbolically in the atrocities suffered by Jesus.
Sunday is the resurrection day and it is celebrated with special services in the churches and a sumptuous feast. The children will get Easter eggs and candies on the Easter morning. These are believed to be left for them by the Easter Bunny. Good Friday is a public holiday in most countries all over the world.
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