Chewing the fat: Easter versus Passover

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When a Jewish holiday and Christian holiday occur at about the same time, that’s my queue to wrangle myself up a non-Jew to help me compare the holidays (see Bacon & Lox: The Christmas-Hanukkah Sound Off ). Meet PC, a doggerel writer, amusing guy, and devout non-Jew (but open minded to the all possibilities of a great beyond).


JK: Our readers know about Passover, so I’d like to use most of our limited real estate to learn more about this Easter holiday of yours; a holiday that somehow sounds so important (the Jesus stuff) and so silly (giant bunny suits and colored eggs) at the same time. You ready to represent?


PC: Word.


JK: I like food. My last two articles on this blog were about Jewish delis and bacon (kind of). So in comparing Passover and Easter, let’s dive right in with the coloring and hunting of Easter Eggs, the Easter Ham (is that really just a slap in the proverbial Jewish face?) and what’s the deal with the Last Supper?


PC: This holiday is not all about the food. In fact…


JK: Wait! Wait! NOT ABOUT FOOD? My Jewish brain does not comprehend the idea of a holiday, or any activity that involves more than two people in the same room, not revolving around food.


PC: Get used to it, Rachel Ray. Starting with Easter Eggs, this rule holds true – it’s more fun to color and hunt for Easter Eggs than it is to eat them. I know very few people who like to eat cold, hard boiled eggs. Participating in an Easter Egg Hunt is based on the age-old rule of survival of the fittest. If someone beats you to an egg, it’s less candy or prizes for you, loser.


The Last Supper has more of a compassionate spin to it. It was the Passover meal that Jesus (a Jew) shared with his disciples (also Jews) the night of his arrest. It is the anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus; more commonly referred to as Holy Communion, and is thought to be the most significant sacrament of the…


JK: Wow, Reverend Lovejoy, you’re losing focus, back to the food, buddy.


PC: Right. Sorry. Easter is all about new Spring clothes, doin’ the egg hunt, time with family, and, what I’m sure would appeal to you most, eating ham……Oh, and thanking Jesus for sacrificing himself in order to save our eternal souls…..And ham! Ham is the traditional center piece of most Easter celebration meals, and whether canned, bone in, spiral cut, or honey baked, it is savory satisfaction to the nth degree.


JK: That’s better, thanks. I love ham; didn’t have nearly enough of it growing up. Moving on, can you help me with a historical timeline – Fat Tuesday, Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Easter, what was Jesus doing during each of those?


PC: Fat Tuesday, a completely non-religious event where people party like it’s the end of the world, is the day before Ash Wednesday, a day of repentance that kicks off Lent. What was Jesus doing on Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday? I don’t know; probably hoofin’ his way to Jerusalem.


39 days later Palm Sunday comes along. Without getting too biblical, this is the day celebrated as Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. In today’s times, it’s a time to watch cute little kids walking up and down the aisles having sword fights with each other, as a palm leaf can easily be perceived as a weapon.


Four days later is Maundy Thursday, or Great and Holy Thursday, or Thursday of Mysteries; all names for the holy day that commemorates the Last Supper (see above).


Good Friday represents the night that Jesus died on the cross. The typical gathering is called a Tenebrae Service; a very sad and dark experience…..I love it! It just adds the right balance on the front end, to the celebration of Easter morning. So, what was Jesus doing on Good Friday? Um, dying?


Then, after the Easter Bunny (who must been the 13th disciple of Jesus, cuz I don’t know how else he got in the picture) has passed by, leaving candy in the kid’s basket, Easter morning arrives. Of course by this time Jesus is now up in heaven sitting at the right hand of God, shootin’ the shit with the Big Guy.


So JK, tell me about Passover.


JK: Basically, every Jewish holiday has the same story… a bad guy wants to wipe out the Jews and fails. Passover is just a variation on the theme. Think Haman, Ramses II, Antiochus, Hitler – I’m sure I’m missing a few.


PC: I know Hitler, not a fan, loved how he was killed in Inglorious Bastards.


JK: The Seder, which is the service before and after the Passover meal, is done around the dinner table, and re-tells the Exodus story. The general rule is that when there are young kids in the house, you have a longer service, hitting all the important parts of the service. Then, every year the service gets shorter and shorter until the kids are in college and the entire service takes maybe five minutes, which mostly consists of skipping to the four cups of wine. Oh, and we eat brisket…and Gefilte Fish. Does that help?


PC: Not really. You’re the food guy; I’m a movie guy… I’ve watched Charlton Heston put the awesome beard on, raise his big old staff, part the Red Sea, and set The People free, as Moses in the cinema classic The Ten Commandments. Why is this film shown on TV every year at this time? What is the connection to Passover?


JK: That’s the Exodus story. Passover is all about escaping slavery in Egypt and getting to the holy land. And you’re right, it is a great movie.


PC: You guys get a cool movie like this, with chicks mucking around in mud, sticks turning into snakes, ten great rules to live by, and wicked chariot races (oh, wait…..wrong film). What equivalent do I get? It’s the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown. Now that’s relevant faith messaging.


JK: Dude, you have Jesus Christ Superstar, my favorite musical of all time, with a great movie version too. I played bass guitar in a local church production once – one of the most fun musical experiences of my life.


PC: Really? I didn’t get the tank scene.


OK, one more question; why did it take 40 years to cross the desert, in order to get to the land of milk and honey? I think old JC covered equal ground in the 3 years of his ministry. What up?


JK: I think it had to do with killing off a generation so those entering that land of milk and honey would not have memories of slavery.


PC: Yeah? Wow. That’s rough


JK: I may have that wrong; it does sound kind of negative. Readers, can you help me out here?


Thank you for joining me this month. PC, would you like the final word?


PC: By the historical origins of the Christian faith, there is certainly a strong connection between the events and significance of Passover and the Easter Celebration. I very much appreciate all of the faith based, cultural based and historical significance of the Passover season and event. Good Passover to you and gut yontiff! I’ll let you know later how good the ham was.