Originally Published: April 7, 2012 10 p.m.
Christian and Jewish faithful around the world this week observe holy days rich in their symbolic tradition.
For Christians, today, Easter Sunday, is the culmination of the Lenten period, which began with Ash Wednesday and continued for 40 days, commemorating Christ's fasting in the wilderness. The weeks leading to Easter are solemn, a time devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence, especially ritualized on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, when Christ shared the Last Supper in a Passover meal with his disciples, and on Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ with great joy, while Easter Sunday is joyous because of Christ's resurrection.
Passover is an eight-day festival commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt and more significantly, God's grace in saving the Jewish people from annihilation. The holiday began Friday with an evening-meal service known as a Seder.
Jewish and Christian peoples alike mark their holidays with rituals and customs steeped in tradition.
The Passover Seder, with traditional foods, retells the story of the Exodus. The season itself encourages passing on of the story, because the Jewish people were strangers to many after the fall of the Second Temple in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago and the founding of the State of Israel after the Holocaust in 1948.
Christians greet Easter Sunday with exuberance because of their savior's rising from the dead and ascent to Heaven. Church services celebrate the event, and families get together for Easter egg hunts and back yard picnics.
Even though these two faiths are rooted together in a millennia of history, not always do their holiest of holidays share the same weekend. But because of lunar dynamics this year, they coincide on the 2012 calendar.
Whether or not we believe in the doctrines of either Judaism or Christianity, we can find hope in the spirituality of the messages they send during these holidays. They both take place in springtime and bear themes of rebirth, new life, redemption and growth.
If we hear what these holidays - Easter and Passover - say to us then, no matter our spirituality, we can listen and learn.