Easter is one of the most important dates on the Christian calendar. Believers gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While this is an important celebration for the Christians, is it the same for Jews? Do Jewish people celebrate Easter?
Jewish people are a religious group and nation descended from the Hebrews and Israelites of ancient Judah and Israel. Their beliefs encompass many theological, ethical, and cultural principles.
Do Jewish people celebrate Easter?
Jews do not celebrate Easter. They do not recognise Jesus as the Messiah and do not accept the accounts of his resurrection. Instead of Easter, Jewish people have their religious holidays and festivals.
One of their major celebrations is the Passover or Pesach. This is one of the most important Jewish holidays, celebrating the Israelites' liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt. It typically occurs in the spring and is observed with a Seder meal and the retelling of the Exodus story.
How do Jews celebrate Easter?
Instead of Easter, they celebrated the Passover, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is one of Judaism's three pilgrimage carnivals. The other two are Shavuot or Pentecost and Sukkot, also recognised as the Feast of Tabernacles.
Before Passover, the Jewish family ensures that everything is cleaned and removes all traces of leavened bread. The centrepiece of Passover observance is the Seder, a special festive meal held on the first two nights of Passover.
It includes the retelling of the Exodus story using a Haggadah. They observe the celebration with unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and four cups of wine, all these representing the different aspects of the Exodus story.
The focal points of a Passover Seder are:
- Eating matzah (or unleavened bread) to show that the Jews had to escape and take their bread that had yet to rise.
- Eating bitter herbs to commemorate the bitter slavery Israelites endured.
- Recite the Ten Plagues, Moses's divine demonstration of power to "Let my people go."
- Recitation of the Haggadah–a liturgy that describes the Exodus.
- Asking and answering the four Passover questions by the table's youngest member.
- Singing songs and enjoying drinks and food while relaxing.
Besides having a Seder, many Jews attend a Passover service, and the Rabbi recites Hebrew out of the Torah (Old Testament). The concealing of the Afikoman is a Passover tradition comparable to Easter egg hunts.
The Afikoman is a half-piece of matzah split into two pieces early in the Seder and finally hidden somewhere in the house by the head of the household. The kids explore the house, and the first two to find both pieces get money or candy.
Does the Jewish faith celebrate Easter?
Jews do not celebrate Easter but have other important holidays they do celebrate. They include the following:
1. Shabbat (The Sabbath)
The Jewish Sabbath is an important week that begins on Friday evening and ends on Sunday. You are not required to travel or work on this day.
2. Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
The Jewish New Year marks the start of ten days of repentance or teshuvah, which culminates in Yom Kippur. It is traditionally characterised by consuming sweet or round delicacies such as apples and honey. They also hollow out the ram's horn during religious rituals.
3. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
This is a serious day when Jews fast, pray, and say sorry for their mistakes. They don't eat, drink (even water), take baths, have sex, or wear anything made of leather on this important day.
4. Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles)
This festival commemorates the 40-year journey of the Israelites. They lived in simple huts for 40 years in the desert. It is a week-long fall festival that begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei.
5. Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days to commemorate the Maccabees' miraculous victory and the Temple's rededication in Jerusalem. Unlike most other Jewish holidays, it is a relatively minor Jewish holiday with no restrictions.
6. Purim (Festival of Lots)
This carnival-style celebration commemorates the defeat of a conspiracy to eliminate Persia's Jews. It is traditional to dress up in costumes and present food gifts to friends and the needy, especially hamantashen, triangular pastries filled with fruit or poppy seeds.
7. Shavuot (Feast of Weeks)
The feast of Weeks marks the Law (Torah) given at Mt Sinai. Shavuot was the biblical date for the beginning of the harvest season in the Land of Israel.
How do Christian and Jewish beliefs compare?
Jews and Christians have a few similar beliefs. They all believe that God inspired the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament works such as Genesis, Psalms, and Daniel. They both believe in the same stories and doctrines, such as Noah's and the Ten Commandments.
Here are some of the major differences between the two religious groups:
- Judaism is a monotheistic faith centred on the belief in a single God. On the other hand, Christianity subscribes to the doctrine of the Trinity, which is about God's existence in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.
- In Jewish theology, the emphasis is on adherence to the law, encompassing both religious and civil commandments that are considered divine. In contrast, Christian theology acknowledges the importance of moral principles from the law but maintains that Jesus fulfilled the law's requirements.
- Another difference lies in the understanding of the New Covenant. Christians believe that Jesus fulfilled the New Covenant prophesied by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah. Jews believe in the realisation of this Covenant in the future.
Did Jesus appear to Jewish people?
According to the Bible, the first people to believe Jesus was the Messiah were Jews, and Jesus appeared to them. Jews, like Matthew, were among the authors of the New Testament, became persuaded and believed in Jesus' resurrection.
Jesus also appeared to his disciples, who were gathered in a locked room for fear of the Jews. He stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you” ( John 20:19).
- What is the difference between Jews and Christians? Christianity emphasises faith in Jesus Christ, while Judaism believe in the oneness of God and does not adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity.
- Do Jews believe in Easter? Jews don't believe in Easter because they don't believe Jesus, who rose from the dead.
- Do Jews celebrate Easter? They do not; instead, they celebrate the Passover, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- What do Jews do on Easter? They celebrate the Passover, which always begins at sunset on Friday, April 22 and commence at sunset on Saturday, April 30.
- What do Jews celebrate on Good Friday? Friday marks the first day of Passover.
- Does Judaism believe in Jesus? Jews believe Jesus did not fulfil Messianic prophecies establishing the criteria for the coming of the Messiah.
- Who do the Jews worship? Jews have always held a monotheistic view of God, as Yahweh is one.
- Do Jews celebrate Christmas? Jews do not observe Christmas as a religious festival. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, whose death and birth are central to Christian theology.
- What is the biggest celebration for Jews? Yom Kippur is the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. Penance and reconciliation are major themes of the festival.
Do Jewish people celebrate Easter? Most Jews do not celebrate Easter, as in Judaism, Jesus is not recognised as a Messiah. They celebrate the Passover and other important holidays, such as the Hanukkah, Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Legit.ng has published an article about the Easter holiday and when it is celebrated. Easter Sunday is when Christians celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, usually 40 days after Lent.
It is considered the most important and sacred day of the Christian calendar. It is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox (usually on March 21). However, the date of the festival keeps changing every year.