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Easter and Passover

March 29, 2018

Good Friday is tomorrow and Passover starts tomorrow night. I wrote about this coincidence on April 5, 2012 and want to do so again, but differently. Why does Easter and Passover always come out around the same time? It is not by chance.

Jesus’ last supper was a Passover Seder. Through Jewish tradition as dictated in the Torah, the Festival of Passover is to occur during the beginning of Spring. The ancient Israelis were an agricultural based society and the three Jewish Festivals – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot were positioned based on the harvests. Passover is connected to the “first fruits of the barley” which was the first grain to ripen in the Land of Israel. Shavuot is at the first grain harvest and Sukkot at the end of the harvest period. While there is religious significance to these festivals, their appearance is connected to the harvests.

In order to have Passover, and the succeeding holidays, come out at the right time the Jewish calendar makes adjustments since the moon cycle is 29 1/2 days. Some months are 29 days and some 30 days creating a 354 day year. Originally done by observation sometime in the fourth century CE the start of a month has been mathematically calculated and a perpetual calendar established with a year being either 12 or 13 months. To make this happen an extra month is added 7 times in every 19 year period. This positions Passover usually between the last week of March and the beginning of the last week of April. While the Jewish calendar is used for religious purposes, the Gregorian calendar is used for everything else.

Similarly, a Christian calendar determines when Easter falls while the Gregorian Calendar rules all secular and civic occurrences. This is done so that Easter would always appear on the same Sunday throughout the world and will be at the appropriate time in the early Spring. To accomplish this, Roman Emperor Constantine convened the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. Tables were constructed and eventually finalized in 532 by Dionysius Exiguus, an Abbot of Scythia. BTW, Dionysius also started the counting of the years based on the birth of Christ which is still maintained today. A new Easter table was produced in 1582 following the adoption of Pope Gregory XIII’s Gregorian Calendar. The tables dictate that Easter will be on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox but uses an ecclesiastical rule for doing do, not the actual moon position. The way it works Easter can never be before March 22 or later than April 25.

Even though there are different methods a coinciding of these Holy Days occurs quite often. Both use the same historical event even though different religious reasons are ascribed to it. And it seems to work quite well.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover.
Ed Mendlowitz

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2018 10:58 am

    Thank you and you and your family enjoy both Passover and the whole weekend.

  2. March 30, 2018 7:36 pm

    Ed, you continue to be the most well read man I know. I enjoy learning from your posts whether they relate to business, history or spiritual matters. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on a variety of subjects.

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