Which Jewish Holiday Precedes Easter?

Holidays & Special Events

By Kristy Tolley

As Easter approaches, many people wonder about the connection between this Christian holiday and Judaism. One particular question that often arises is: what Jewish holiday occurs right before Easter?

The answer to this question is Passover. Passover, also known as Pesach, is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. The holiday begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which typically falls in late March or early April. Passover lasts for eight days and is marked by a variety of rituals and traditions.

During Passover, Jews celebrate the Exodus story, when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. The holiday is characterized by the symbolic foods eaten, such as matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs, which represent the haste and bitterness of the Israelites’ departure from Egypt. The centerpiece of the Passover meal is the Seder, a festive meal that retells the story of the Exodus using a specific order of rituals and readings.

For Christians, the Last Supper, which is believed to have been a Passover Seder, took place right before Easter. This connection between Passover and Easter highlights the historical and cultural ties between Judaism and Christianity.

Purim: The Festival of Lots

Purim is a Jewish holiday that occurs right before Easter. It is known as the Festival of Lots and is celebrated to commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to exterminate them during the time of ancient Persia. The story of Purim is found in the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible.

The holiday is named after the casting of lots, or “purim” in Hebrew, which was used by the villain of the story, Haman, to determine the date on which the Jews would be exterminated. However, through the bravery and wisdom of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai, the Jewish people were saved from this plan.

During Purim, Jews worldwide observe several customs and traditions. They read the book of Esther, known as the Megillah, in synagogue, making noise whenever the villain Haman’s name is mentioned to blot it out. This is done in order to remind Jews of the evil that Haman represented and the importance of standing up against oppression.

Another custom of Purim is the exchange of gifts, known as “mishloach manot.” People often give food or drink items to friends and family, as well as gifts to those in need. This custom reinforces the spirit of unity and helps to build a sense of community and connection, highlighting the importance of caring for others.

Purim is also marked by festive meals, costumes, and playing games such as “Purim spiels” or comedic performances. These celebrations reflect the joy and gratitude felt by the Jewish people for their salvation during this holiday.

Overall, Purim is a joyous and meaningful holiday that serves as a reminder of the resilience and faith of the Jewish people. It is a time for celebration, unity, and gratitude, as well as a time to reflect on the importance of standing up against adversity.

Passover: The Festival of Freedom

Passover, also known as Pesach, is one of the most significant Jewish holidays. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, as described in the Book of Exodus. The holiday is celebrated for eight days, beginning on the 15th day of the month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.

During Passover, Jewish families gather to retell the story of the Exodus and to remember the hardships faced by their ancestors. The Passover Seder, a special meal, is held on the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder involves the recitation of the Haggadah, a text that recounts the story of the Exodus and outlines the rituals and traditions of Passover.

One of the most important symbols of Passover is matzah, unleavened bread. This represents the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt, not having time for their bread to rise. Throughout the holiday, Jews refrain from eating or possessing any leavened products, known as chametz.

Another significant ritual of Passover is the search and removal of chametz from one’s home. This process, known as the bedikat chametz, is performed the evening before Passover begins. It involves searching the house by candlelight and removing any remnants of chametz found, ensuring that the home is free from leavened products during the holiday.

Passover is also a time for celebrating freedom and gratitude. It is a time for families to come together, reflect on their own personal journeys, and appreciate the blessings in their lives. The holiday serves as a reminder of the importance of freedom and the power of faith.

Passover Traditions Meaning
Eating matzah Remembering the haste of the Israelites leaving Egypt
Storytelling during the Seder Remembering the Exodus and passing down the story to future generations
Removing chametz Symbolic act of removing all traces of leavened products and impurities
The four cups of wine Symbolizing the four expressions of redemption mentioned in the Exodus story

Passover is a time for reflection, unity, and celebration. It is a holiday that reminds us of the importance of freedom and the strength of the human spirit. Through its rituals and traditions, Passover continues to be a meaningful and joyous festival for Jewish communities around the world.

Lag BaOmer: The Festival of Bonfires

Lag BaOmer is a Jewish holiday that falls between the holidays of Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot. It is celebrated on the 33rd day of the Omer, which is the period of counting between these two holidays.

The holiday holds special significance for Jewish people as it commemorates a break in a plague that occurred during the time of the Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva. According to tradition, during this period, thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students died from a mysterious illness. The plague was believed to be a punishment for their failure to treat each other with respect. However, on the 33rd day of the Omer, the deaths stopped, and as such, it became a day of celebration.

One of the most prominent customs of Lag BaOmer is the lighting of bonfires. These bonfires are typically lit in parks and open spaces, and they serve as a symbol of the light and warmth that emerged from the darkness of the plague. People gather around the bonfires to sing, dance, and enjoy each other’s company.

In addition to bonfires, Lag BaOmer is also associated with other customs and traditions. For example, it is common for children to play with bows and arrows, which is said to symbolize archery skills studied by Rabbi Akiva’s students. Many Jewish communities also organize processions, parades, and outdoor picnics to celebrate the holiday.

Lag BaOmer is a festive and joyful holiday that marks a turning point between the solemnity of Pesach and the anticipation of Shavuot. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and community, as Jewish people come together to celebrate and remember the resilience of their ancestors.

Shavuot: The Festival of Weeks

Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks, is an important Jewish holiday that occurs seven weeks after Passover. In Hebrew, the word Shavuot means “weeks,” as it is a celebration of the completion of the seven-week period that began with the exodus from Egypt.

During Shavuot, Jews commemorate the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. It is considered to be the day when the Jewish people officially became a nation and received the guidelines for their moral and spiritual development.

One of the important customs of Shavuot is the reading of the Ten Commandments. Jews gather in synagogues to hear the commandments being recited as a reminder of their commitment to live by the laws of the Torah.

The Festival of Weeks is also a time to celebrate the agricultural harvest. In ancient times, Jews would bring the first fruits of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering of gratitude. Today, it is still common for Jews to decorate their homes and synagogues with flowers and fruits to symbolize the abundance of the harvest.

Another unique tradition on Shavuot is the consumption of dairy products. This custom is rooted in the belief that the Jewish people, after receiving the laws of Kashrut (the Jewish dietary laws) on this day, did not have enough time to properly prepare kosher meat. As a result, they opted for dairy products, which required less preparation.

Shavuot is a time of joy and celebration in the Jewish calendar. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and a renewal of commitment to follow the principles and values of the Torah. Whether through the reading of the Ten Commandments or the enjoyment of dairy delicacies, Shavuot is a holiday that holds deep significance for Jews around the world.

Tisha B’Av: A Day of Mourning

Tisha B’Av, also known as the Ninth of Av, is a Jewish holiday that occurs right before Easter. It is considered a day of mourning and commemorates a series of tragic events throughout Jewish history.

One of the main events that Tisha B’Av commemorates is the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. These temples were central to Jewish religious and cultural life, and their destruction marked a significant loss for the Jewish people.

In addition to the destruction of the temples, Tisha B’Av also remembers various other calamities that occurred on this day. This includes the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, and the start of World War I in 1914.

Tisha B’Av is observed as a day of mourning, and many Jewish people fast and refrain from certain activities such as bathing, wearing leather shoes, and engaging in marital relations. The day is spent in prayer, reading from the Book of Lamentations, and reflecting on the tragedies of the past.

While Tisha B’Av is a solemn observance, it also serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the Jewish people throughout history. It is a time to come together as a community, mourn the losses of the past, and renew the commitment to preserving Jewish culture and traditions.

Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is considered to be the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It typically occurs in late September or early October, about ten days after the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, prayer, and repentance. It is believed that on this day, God seals the fate of each individual for the upcoming year based on their actions and behavior. Therefore, it is a time for reflection, introspection, and seeking forgiveness for any wrongdoings committed throughout the year.

The main focus of Yom Kippur is the act of atonement, which refers to the process of seeking forgiveness for sins and making amends. It is a day of deep spiritual reflection and personal growth, as individuals take responsibility for their actions and strive to improve themselves.

During Yom Kippur, Jewish people engage in intense prayer and attend synagogue services. The day begins with the Kol Nidre service, where a special prayer is recited to annul any vows or promises that were made but not fulfilled. Throughout the day, individuals also recite prayers of confession and repentance, seeking forgiveness from both God and fellow human beings.

In addition to prayer, fasting is a central aspect of Yom Kippur. From sundown the day before until the following evening, Jewish individuals abstain from eating and drinking as a sign of purification and dedication to spiritual growth. Fasting is seen as a way to focus on the soul rather than physical needs, and to demonstrate commitment to seeking forgiveness and making positive changes.

Yom Kippur is a solemn and introspective day for Jewish people, filled with prayer, repentance, and acts of kindness. It is a time to reflect on the past year, seek forgiveness, and strive to become better individuals in the upcoming year.

Key Facts about Yom Kippur
Date Occurs in late September or early October
Importance Holiest day in the Jewish calendar
Meaning Day of Atonement and seeking forgiveness
Main Practices Fasting, intense prayer, attending synagogue services
Significance Sealing the fate of individuals for the upcoming year


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Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

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