“Not to celebrate with the Jews”: how Passover became Easter


"Не праздновать с иудеями": как Песах стал Пасхой

Every year the Jews celebrate Passover — the holiday that marks the chain of events in which the Jews left Egypt. In 2018 it is celebrated from the evening of 30 March to 7 April.

According to the Torah and the Bible, the family of Jacob-Israel, the ancestor of the Jews, because of the famine left the land of Canaan (now — the territory divided between Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan) and moved to Egypt. There the Israelites lived 430 years, and during that time their number has considerably increased, exceeding the number of Egyptians. The new Pharaoh, fearing conflict with the Jews, ordered to exhaust their hard work in hopes to keep the increase in their numbers. But it didn’t help. Then Pharaoh commanded to kill the newborn Israeli boys.

At this time, the birthplace of the Jewish prophet Moses and his mother, saving the baby, put him in a tarred basket and let the water of the Nile. Baby found Pharaoh’s daughter and took to his house.

Grown-up Moses once met an overseer who was beating an Israelite. In anger Moses killed the overseer, and, fearing punishment, fled from Egypt. He settled in the land of Midian, a semi-nomadic people who lived on the Sinai Peninsula and Northwest Arabia from Moab (Western Jordan) in the North to the red sea in the South. There he married the daughter of a local chieftain and priest and started grazing.

One day when Moses was tending the flock, he saw the Bush that was burning but not being consumed. When Moses approached the Bush, God called to him from the burning Bush, called to lead the people of Israel from Egypt to the Promised land — Canaan. When Moses returned to Egypt and demanded Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he refused. Then God sent down upon Egypt the ten plagues — at first all the water in the Nile and other water bodies and reservoirs turned into blood, then Egypt was filled with frogs, swarms of flies “swarms of flies” (probably bugs). Extinct animals, the bodies of the Egyptians were covered with ulcers and boils, in Egypt struck the fiery hail, locusts destroyed all vegetation, and then on Egypt was darkness. And finally, suddenly killed all the firstborn — from Pharaoh’s son to the cattle.

It should be noted that all these events could theoretically have a place in history and have a scientific justification — “penalty” could be running an algae bloom Physteria, which led to the characteristic reddening of the water, and emits toxins have caused fish kills and the mass Exodus of frogs, the population of which has increased dramatically since the fish stopped eating eggs. Because of the rotting fish were flies that carried the infection that caused the death of livestock. The “fiery hail” was caused by the volcanic eruption, to which the Bible has other references. The darkness was the result of a sand storm or volcano eruption. Children and cattle apparently died due to affected grain reserves toxic fungus brought by the locusts. According to tradition, the first ate the older sons — and they got a batch of toxic grain. Among the cattle to the trough made its way older, strong animals, which led to the same effect.

Also, according to the Torah and the Bible, the penalty did not affect the Jews. This is due to the fact that the Jews lived away from the major Egyptian cities and, first, had an independent food supply, and, secondly, ate mostly meat and milk.

Ancient legends, however, offer a different explanation. According to them, before the last plague God commanded the Jews to kill the lambs, roast their meat and their blood to mark their doorposts. Hence the name of the holiday: Pesach is derived from “pasach,” which in Hebrew translates as “pass.”

In Christianity the word “Easter” came through Aramaic “pisha”. From the Aramaic name was in Greek, then in Latin, and then have spread to European languages.

Although the Christian Easter has the same roots, the meaning of the holiday is very different. If the Passover is celebrated as the liberation of the Jews from slavery, the Passover is connected with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In the New Testament described the last supper, the last meal of Christ with the twelve closest disciples, during which he predicted the betrayal by one of them and established the main mystery of the Christian faith, the Eucharist — the consecration of the bread and wine, and their subsequent use. They symbolize the flesh and blood of Christ.

Soon Christ was crucified.

In the Christian understanding of how God freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt, so the Christian is freed from the bondage of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Judaism and Christianity different counting dates, when does Passover and Easter. Passover begins on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar — around March-April according to the Gregorian. The basis of the Jewish calendar, the supposed definition the first new moon, which, according to Jewish computation, took place on Monday 7 October 3761 BC Jewish calendar is lunar, so each calendar date always falls not only on the same season of the year, but on the same phase of the moon. There are also six different times of the year, from 353 to 385 days. Months begin on the new moon, Passover is always on the full moon in early spring.

The date of Easter in the Orthodox tradition is determined in accordance with the Seventh Apostolic rule ( “If any Bishop, or presbyter, or deacon Holy day of Pascha before the vernal equinox with the Jews to celebrate will, let him be deposed from the sacred rank”), the rule of the First Ecumenical Council of 325 in the city of Nicaea (“it has been decided that this holiday was celebrated by all at one and the same day everywhere… And truly, above all, everyone seemed extremely unworthy of the fact that in the celebration of this most Holy feast, we should follow the custom of the Jews…” ) and the First rule of the local Council of Antioch about the time of celebrating Easter.

In 1054 the Orthodox and Catholic churches finally separated.

Established by the time the tradition of calculating the date of Easter in the Orthodox Church was described in the “Alphabetical Syntagma” of the Byzantine canonist Matthew Vlastar: “Regarding our Easter, you need to pay attention to four resolutions, two of which are contained in the Apostolic rule, and two originate from unwritten tradition. First, we must celebrate the Passover after the vernal equinox. Second — not to celebrate together with the Jews in one day. The third is to celebrate not just after the equinox, but after the first full moon has to be after the equinox. And the fourth after the full moon not only as the first day of the week (Sunday)”.

In 1583 in the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new Paschal table, called Gregorian. As a result, changed the entire calendar. In response, accepted the decision of the Constantinople Cathedral in 1583, which says: “Who follows the Gregorian Paschal godless astronomers let him be accursed — excommunicated and Assembly of the faithful.”

Thus, Protestant and Orthodox churches decided not to follow the calendar as “proposals” of the Pope and other Catholic countries introduce the Gregorian calendar for several centuries. Currently, in the Western Christian world follow the Gregorian calendar and Easter there is celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

In the result of Catholic Easter is often celebrated by early Jewish or one day with her and ahead of Orthodox Easter in some years, more than a month, contrary to the Orthodox tradition.

Different from the Jews, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, and Easter traditions. So, the Jews at the time of the ban on food prepared by fermentation (chametz is “leaven”). Before Pesach all the stocks of “leaven” in the house are eliminated. In the morning before Pesach starts on a post of the male firstborn in remembrance of the tenth of the plagues and the salvation of the Jewish firstborn. The main event of the holiday is the Seder, the Passover evening. In ancient times the Passover was sacrificed the lamb, the meat of which were roasted and eaten with bread made from unleavened dough (matzah) and bitter herbs. Subsequently, the sacrifice had not been conducted, and the victim symbolized meat that was not eaten, but participated in the ritual.

During the Seder, Jews read the Haggadah Pechalnyy, a collection of prayers, songs, and commentaries on the Torah associated with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. They also drink four cups of wine or grape juice. The meal ends with the “afikomen”, the special dish which had previously been the meat of the sacrificed lamb, and now the piece of matzah broken off at the beginning of the Seder. It is the Seder was the last supper.

Orthodox Christians one of the traditional Easter treats steel painted eggs.

This custom originates from the time of Emperor Tiberius. According to legend, Mary Magdalene came to Rome to preach the gospel, and offered him the first Easter egg with the words “Christ is Risen”. The unbeliever, the Emperor exclaimed: “This is as improbable as if the egg was red.” After his words the egg turned red. There is another version of the story: a drop of blood of the crucified Christ fell to the ground, petrified, took the form of chicken eggs. And hot tears of the mother of God have left their traces in the form of patterns. Symbolically, Easter eggs represent the resurrection because the egg is born a new creature.

In Catholic tradition, Easter eggs are also common. Also in many European countries Easter popular character was a rabbit who brings the Easter eggs. The explanation for this is deeply rooted in paganism — according to legend, the pagan goddess of spring Estra turned the bird into a hare, but he continued to lay eggs (which is why in some languages, Easter is called Easter). Another explanation for this phenomenon is more down to earth: when Easter morning the children went to collect eggs from the chicken coop, they are often found near the rabbits.


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