Christians and Jews both celebrate traditions important to their faiths in the spring. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Passover is a spring festival, tied to the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox – usually the first full moon, but not always. This year, Passover and Easter are close together on the calendar.
Jewish families gather on the first night of Passover to light candles, eat the traditional Seder foods, recount the plagues recorded in the Book of Exodus. It is remembrance and celebration of God’s delivery of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, thousands of years ago. Passover celebrations connect Jews through time, with their history and tradition.
This year, this was Wednesday night, April 8th, and it was a very different celebration, set within a modern plague. The Seder tables were not packed with large groups of extended family and friends. Current events brought new meaning to historical recitations. Surely, most everyone gave thought to the hope that next year the family would be intact and able to celebrate a past likely to have much more personal meaning.
For many Christians, the Easter season is a favorite, simply because it is, relative to many other holidays, simple. It involves faith, family, fun and a sense of renewal. Generally, no weeks of shopping, no elaborate and expensive decorations, no competition with the Joneses.
Good Friday observances are traditionally sober, a day of fasting and penance, and reflecting upon Christ’s crucifixion. Families typically worship together on Easter Sunday, celebrating Christ’s resurrection, a time of renewed hope for the future, with music, prayer and thanksgiving. Some rise early and enjoy sunrise services. There’s usually a house of worship involved, and, admittedly, it will usually be packed full of folks in new spring outfits. Sometime during the day there may be baskets filled with decorated eggs and other goodies, a traditional meal shared with family, a gracious plenty of egg hunts and photographs.
This year, there are to be no large worship services, no huge family gatherings. Because of Covid-19 and the need for social distancing, many things are cancelled. Families will be in their individual homes, where they may have been for weeks. There will be no community egg hunts, no White House egg roll in Washington. Most friends and family will be present only in spirit or via electronic technology. But, the focus can still be on past blessings and renewed hope for the future.
During 2020’s days of Passover and Easter celebrations, there will be a few people sitting around the tables who know a little about the 1918 flu pandemic or who remember the horrors of World War II and the holocaust. Most of the participants, though, will comprise people who have largely lived their lives with no experience with, or personal understanding of, that type of event. At this point, as disruptive as it has been to the world, the Covid-19 coronavirus still pales by comparison. However, it is possibly enough for a lesson in doing the hard things, the things we really don’t want to do today, but which we do anyway, with the fervent belief that we are providing for a renewed future.Covid-19 coronavirus, history, Northeast MS news