Easter’s branch with Jewish roots?
Easter follows Passover. I really enjoyed my Advent Son series as I prepared for Christmas but while studying the Book of Esther in February my spirit was filled with confusion and questioning. Not about my faith or the significance of the impending Holy Day but at the calendar. Maybe you noticed, maybe not but Easter was a month early this year. So was yesterday a better day to say Happy Easter? I think so.
Easter was March 27, 2016. But if you are Orthodox you won’t celebrate till May 1, 2016. That is a huge difference. I know you’re asking “How did Esther lead me to Easter?” If you recall Esther established a holiday called Purim which is in the last month of the Jewish year, Adar, and Passover is in the first month, Nisan (or Abib). Passover started at sundown Friday April 22, 2016 linked with the week-long feast of Unleavened Bread that runs through April 30, 2016. It appears Easter is severed from Passover.
What happened to separate Easter from Passover by 26 days?
First let’s make sure the link is clear. Jesus being Jew along with His disciples celebrated Passover together. This is referred to as the Last Supper because Jesus said He would not eat again till later. After the Passover meal Jesus went to the garden to pray before being taken to be judged and crucified, all leading to His resurrection that is celebrated on Easter. Easter is currently always on Sunday because it is the first day of the week following Sabbath. There is a little more to the story.
Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan in the spring. The Jewish months are based on the cycle of the moon while the Gregorian calendar is based on the sun. The Jewish calendar has 12 months plus about 11 days with leap year, an additional month, to keep the months in season. Jewish leap years are on a 19 year cycle with additional months in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years. The Gregorian year (the calendar used by most of the world) has 365¼ days with a leap year, an extra day, every four years to reset the 1/4 day. The result is Nisan and April are always in the spring.
Christian – Jew Disconnect
The disconnect began sometime near the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE (Current Era aka AD). Most of the Christian church had already separated from Judaism and the time of the Gentiles hit full throttle which unfortunately led to a hatred between the two. Around 330 CE under the rule of Constantine I, the Council of Nicaea gathered Christian leaders to accept a modified calendar and a set day for Easter. Sunday became a day for Christians to worship, celebrate most holidays and it unified with the pagan society. Up to that time Christian’s celebrated Christ’s Passion concurrently with the Jewish Passover. This new calendar fueled the marginalization and persecution of Jews. Constantine II forbid the Jewish leaders to tell Jews world wide when to celebrate Holy Days and distribute their calendar. In response Hillel the Patriarch is credited with using science and math to establish the standard Jewish calendar not dependent on communicating.
Easter and Passover would never be celebrated simultaneously again. Three times in twenty years Passover (Pesch) and Easter have been as much as four weeks apart. Seventeen times they are within seven days. Never did they nor will they ever fall on the same day. The severing of Easter from Passover fueled distrust and dislike between Christians and their Jewish roots.
Although the Jewish community has unified behind their calendar the Christians disagree about their Holy days. Orthodox and Western Christians only celebrated Easter seven times on the same day in the last twenty years. Orthodox Christians celebrated nineteen times within seven days of Passover. Additionally many Christian churches celebrate Good Friday commemorating the Last Supper and Jesus betrayal and trials in some form. These celebrations may include teaching, reenactments, a Seder meal, blowing the Shofar, and answering questions about the significance of this night.
Although I am deeply disturbed by history and the treatment of Jews I see God has always protected a remnant and with them the tenants of their faith. Because of their mistreatment they have held tightly to their faith and ensured it has been passed along. I am blessed to live in a time and place where I may be able to learn and experience Passover without relying on a broken and distorted version handed down through generations of non-Jews or reading ancient text. While I have been curious about Passover, the Seder, participating in a Haggadah I’m not prevented from learning. I believe Christians are more able to learn about our Jewish roots now than in any time since 70 CE.
Have you celebrated Passover? Are you curious like me? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you, comment below.