Pesach (Passover) is a holiday that is celebrated by people of the Jewish faith every year. This year the holiday begins on Monday April 10th and ends on Tuesday April 18th. The word “pesach” come from a Hebrew word which means “rebound” and refers to the “passing over” or “omission” of Jewish houses which were passed over in the story of Exodus. In Exodus chapter 12, Yahweh sends 10 plagues into Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to free the Hebrews from slavery. The 10th plague was the death of the first born son in every house in Egypt. In order to have your house “passed over”, Yahweh told the Moses to tell the Hebrews to put lamb’s blood over their door to mark their house as a sign they believe in God, and therefore God would spare their first born. The story in Exodus tells how the Pharaoh then loses his own son, because his house was not passed over and from the death of his son, Pharaoh released the Hebrews from slavery.
Today Jewish people celebrate Pesach as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt. During the time of Pesach, it is a tradition that Jewish people do not eat food with chametz (leaven grains). Today chametz would include foods like bread and cakes and other foods which have a leavening agent (or yeast) in them. Many Jewish people will eat Matzah during Pesach which is an unleavened flat bread. Matzah itself reminds the Jewish people of their ancestors who did not eat leaven bread during their Exodus from Egypt because they did not have time to plan and bake bread to rise, therefore matzah or other substitutes for unleavened bread has a historical and religious significance to this holiday. It is also traditional for families to come together and share a meal (a seder) on the first night of Pesach. There is a special dish called a “seder plate” in which specific food are served. During the beginning part of the dinner, there will be prayers and well as blessings and readings said. It is a tradition to also have wine at the seder dinner and the seder will usually end with a song. Pesach is an important holiday for Jewish people and it usually falls at the same time as Easter, which is a very holy and important holiday for Christians.
Easter is a holiday in the Christian religion that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. In the Christian religion, Jesus Christ is the Son of God and was crucified over 2,000 years ago. Easter is preceded by “Lent”, which 40 days of penance and self-sacrifice as well as religious reflection for Christians. This is the holiest time of the year of Christians. During Lent, many Christians will self-sacrifice and give up something that they like doing or eating, as a way to draw closer to God’s on the cross. It is also a reflective time of reading scripture and prayer in order to reflect on human sinfulness and God’s sacrifice of His only son to forgive sinfulness. This year Easter is on Sunday April 16th. There are a few other holy days that fall into what is call the Triduum. These holy days include Holy Thursday, God Friday and then Easter Sunday, or the Easter Vigil which is held on Saturday night around 11pm or midnight depending on your parish.
Good Friday, along with Easter Sunday, are the two most important holy days during the Triduum. On Good Friday Christians across the world fast and abstain from meat during the day as well as attend mass. At Good Friday Mass which is usually celebrated at 3pm, is a traditionally longer mass which reads the entire account of Jesus’s path to the cross as well as Jesus’s crucifixion. Easter Sunday is a special day in which Christians around the world rejoice and celebrate that Christ has risen from the dead and is in heaven. Many Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday by having a meal with their families and giving each other small gifts, usually chocolate or candy to break their fasting.
We would like to wish both our Jewish and Christian communities in Scotland a very happy and holy holiday.