Saturday, March 31, 2018

It's One Big Holy Week



Jeff—Saturday

Last night (Friday) was the first Passover Seder, tomorrow is Easter in Western Christianity, and next Sunday is Orthodox (Greek) Easter. In the middle of it all falls my granddaughter’s fifth birthday,


Passover or Pesach always takes place around the same time as Easter or Paska because the holiday of Passover, commemorating God’s liberation of the Jewish People from slavery in Egypt, was the occasion for the Last Supper.  In fact, before the year 325 Easter was calculated upon the lunar-based Hebrew calendar and all one had to do to determine the date for Easter was to “ask a Jew in your community” when Passover was celebrated.


All that changed in 325 when the First Ecumenical Synod calculated the exact date of Easter from the more modern cycles of the sun-based Julian calendar.  That became Christianity’s generally accepted method for calculating the date of Easter and continued to be so for more than five hundred years after the Great Schism of 1052 separated the Church of the West to Rome and the Church of the East to Constantinople (Istanbul).

Then, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced what is known as the Gregorian calendar for the express purpose of correctly calculating Easter, something the Julian calendar was not believed to have achieved.  Today, the Gregorian calendar is the world’s officially accepted civil calendar (except in Greece’s 1500 year-old monastic community of Mount Athos—see Prey on Patmos), but there still is not agreement among the Christian world over whether it correctly fixes the date of Easter. 

Indeed, as recently as 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a method of using modern scientific knowledge for precisely calculating Easter and replacing divergent practices.  It was not adopted.

As for how Passover fits into all this, Julian calendar Easter always falls on a Sunday after the first day of the eight-day Passover holiday and generally within those eight days, though at times more than a month later.  Western Easter, relying on the Gregorian calendar, also generally falls within Passover’s eight days, though three times in every nineteen-year period it falls a month before Passover.


Yes, that’s why Easter is considered a moveable feast, as opposed to Christmas that always occurs on the same date.


I guess you could say that, of all these celebratory springtime occasions, the only certainty is that my granddaughter’s birthday always falls on April 4th

Happy Birthday, Rachel.

Portrait by Barbara Zilly

And a Happy Easter, Kalo Paska, and Zissen Pesach to all. 


—Jeff

15 comments:

  1. I am sure you will correct all of this with the Sigerian calendar. What I like about this year is the opportunity it offers to become extremely disliked by kids. I am going to invite the grandkids over for an Easter egg hunt. They will scurry around, screaming and yelling, eager to find the treasures I have hidden. After ten minutes or so, they will come to me, exhausted and sad, because they haven't been able to find any. "April fool" I will say, and run for my life.

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    1. Hmm, Stan, why do I sense a new Dr. Seuss title in the offing...."The Trollip that Trolled Easter."

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    2. I LOVE that idea, Stan. If I had any little kids around, I'd do that exact same thing. (But I'd have a real egg hunt in a different area, ready to go, to ensure my survival.)

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  2. Many thanks for the coherent explanation to which I can direct friends who don't understand why I send Easter greetings twice each year, except in years I don't.

    Happy holidays.

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  3. In these days of great uncertainty, whether Christian, Jewish, or Non-Persuasional, I'd say that "Good Luck" pretty much applies.

    Happy birthday, Rachel!

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    1. Your good wishes (and observation) are much appreciated, EvKa.
      All the same back at ya.

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  4. My brother, the formula that I learned in my seventeen years of Catholic school began with this phrase: "The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox..."

    In my Jewish and Italian neighborhood, this week was very festive and the air was redolent with the lovely aroma of roasting lamb. It was when we were reminded that we all came out of the same roots.

    KUDOS TO BARBARA!!! That portrait is SPECTACULAR!

    LOVE to you both!

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    1. Thanks and the same to you, sis. Your teachers taught you correctly for the Gregorian calendar followers, which means Easter can be as early as 22 March and late as April 25. But for Justinian calendar folks, it falls as early as April 4 and late as May 8! Personally, I look to Google for guidance on this subject. :)

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  5. Wow, Barbara is wildly talented! And she had a beautiful subject to draw, as well.

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    1. Her talent runs to the pencil as clearly as yours does to the pen! Thanks Donis.

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  6. There is apparently some dispute now as to whether "the last supper" was indeed a seder or whether it was just a gathering of Jesus's followers. Haven't read deeply on this subject but it is focusing on who was "present".

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    1. Hmmm, could it be that "fake news" has been around for over two thousand years?

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  7. Barbara is a truly talented artist. That portrait is spectacular.

    Thanks for the egg-cellent breakdown of the calendar issues too!

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    1. Susan, you always crack me up.

      Xox Humpty.

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