Understanding the Calendrical and Religious Connection Between Passover and Easter

Matzoh ball soup is a popular dish on Passover.

By Anna Breuer on 20 April 2019
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It’s no mere coincidence that the first night of Passover this year overlapped with Good Friday or that the second day of Passover was Easter.

Both arrive together every spring, just like blossoming tulips, and have many commonalities and share profound connections.

Sometimes, however, when the holidays occur on the Gregorian calendar vary widely. Why this is has largely to do with the moon and its phases.

While Easter is Christianity’s most solemn holiday, Passover is a joyous celebration of the Exodus, the story of how the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt and left for the promised land, “a land flowing with milk and honey,” as recalled in the bible, specifically in Shemot, or Exodus, Chapter 13, Verse 5.

Indeed, the origin of the phrase, “Let my people go,” comes directly from Shemot, Chapter 9, Verse 1, which Moses is commanded to say to Pharaoh.

The commemoration of Passover comes from Exodus Chapter 13, Verse 8: “And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, “Because of this, the Lord did [this] for me when I went out of Egypt.”

Today Passover is celebrated with a festive holiday meal the first two nights known as a Seder.  Seder is the Hebrew word for “order” and a Seder follows a particular order that includes reciting a set order of psalms and prayers and the scripted retelling of the story of the Exodus, as well as the consumption of matzoh, or unleavened bread, in commemoration of how the Israelites left Egypt without having sufficient time to allow their bread to rise.

Easter, the more recent of the holidays, is tied to Passover in the New Testament and commemorates the Christian belief that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead after his crucifixion. Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus shared a final meal, referred to as the Last Supper, with his disciples in Jerusalem, an occasion that is commemorated on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper was in fact a Passover Seder.

An additional connection, specifically in Romance languages, is rather explicit.  The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach.  In French, Easter is Paques, and in Italian it is Paqua.  The Greek word for Easter is Pascha, and many other languages simply render Pascha in transliterated form for Easter.  The word Easter is Germanic in origin and the modern German word for Easter is Ostern, which is believed to come from Ēastre, the name of  a goddess associated with spring.

Intrinsically, both holidays are about death, and about life.

Easter is of course about the belief that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead after his crucifixion.

Click here to continue to Page 2How Often Do Passover and Easter Overlap and Why

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