Easter and Passover

Easter and Passover.

Written by Jonty Stern on 17 May 2020 19:50.

My attempt at piecing together how Easter and Passover relate to each other.

Two recent Zooms (Zoom calls?) I've had were particularly memorable. Our family comes from mixed religious stock and the result has been a love and respect for all religions. On one occasion it was Passover, which is part of my sister's and my ancestry although not that of my mother. We sang some of the songs together and ate boiled eggs and had some red wine.
A few days later it was Good Friday. We Zoomed again and sang "Hot cross buns" and each had our own hot cross buns with a lovely hot drink.
I tend to celebrate various different celebrations including those which aren't part of my ancestry. Recently it was Holi and Purim, two of the liveliest celebrations in the Hindu and Jewish religions respectively, at the same time so, of course, I course, I celebrated both!
I got interested in the connection between Passover and Easter and neo-Pagan Spring celebrations (having celebrated all three) and have tried to figure it out in my mind. This is as far as I've got. I think this is all correct lol! People can let me know if I've made any mistakes.
1) There was an Anglo-Saxon Pagan Goddess called Eostre. The whole month of April was dedicated to her. There was a completely different Goddess for March, when the Vernal Equinox is. We know nothing about either Goddess.
2) She may well be the same as the Goddess Ostara from Germany who may well be a Goddess of the dawn and of the east, hence her name; she may well be the same as the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar. Neo-Pagans say that she is the same Goddess and that she once healed a wounded bird by turning it into a rabbit. It was still a bird in some ways and so laid eggs - hence the Easter Bunny. That story can certainly be traced back to 19th-century Germany. Maybe it goes back further? Who knows.
3) We don't know why Jews have eggs at Passover or why Christians have them at Easter or whether the two facts are related. We know that both faiths usen't to do that but we don't know when they started or why - it's probably under the influence of much older religions.
4) The Easter bunny may be derived from a much older religion too but we can't really be too sure about that.
5) Jesus' last supper was Passover. Therefore it makes sense that Easter should be on the Sunday after Passover. So what sometimes goes wrong?
Well, Jews want Passover to be on the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. That means that Easter should be on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.
The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, not solar, which is great - Passover is always on the 15th day of the month of Nisan is Passover and it is, indeed, always on a full moon :) However because the calendar is 12 lunar months it is too short in terms of how long it takes us to go round the sun. That means they've had to add a leap month (the month of Adar, which precedes Nisan) every few years to bring the year in line with our journey around the sun. That means the 15th day of Nisan is sometimes on the second full moon after the Vernal Equinox.
What do Christians do about that? Well, they fall into a number of camps.
a) There are those like the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists who celebrate Passover, not Easter. Their job is nice and easy! They just have to say, "Hey, Jews - when are you celebrating Passover this year?" and whatever the answer is they have their Christian Passover on exactly the same day.
b) The Roman Catholics say, "This is when the Jews OUGHT to have had Passover by our reckoning - we'll jolly well have Easter on the first Sunday after that!" They literally work out when the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox is. This can clash with the Jewish calendar. Anglicans, Methodists and others simply say, "Hey, Catholics - when are you having Easter this year?" and then copy them.
c) The Orthodox Churches also say, "We'll have Easter on the Sunday after the Jews jolly well OUGHT to have had Passover according to this Dionysian table".
d) Celtic Christianity - this ancient form of Christianity had a different date for the Vernal Equinox, a different calendar and a different Easter. The Catholics forced them to abandon their Easter in the 7th century and replace it with a new one. The new one was the Easter that the Orthodox Church now uses but which the Catholics themselves abandoned in the 16th century because they felt it was starting to drift. Complicated!
e) The British legal Easter - in 1928 the U.K. parliament passed into law a legal Easter which all Anglicans and the everyday calendar (for schools and so on) ought to use so as to stop the Easter holiday and term lengths swinging about hither and thither. By law the Anglican and secular calendars in this country ought to place Easter on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April every year. Nice and simple... but we've been breaking the law for nearly 100 years and ignoring that ruling!
So whatever you celebrate at various times of the year I hope you have an absolute blast!

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