A trifecta of important
religious holidays

This year’s overlapping of Ramadan, Passover and Easter

By Byron Toben

April 6, 2023

Because they are or formerly were based on a shifting lunar calendar, which has 354 days in the year instead of the fixed 365 in the Gregorian calendar, various holidays of three major faiths shift vis à vis each other. In 2023, the Jewish Passover (8 days), the Christian Easter holy week (8 days) and the Muslim Ramadan (30 days) overlap to a large extent.

Ramadan in Jerusalem

Ramadan in Jerusalem – Image: Kmhad, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ramadan – March 23 to April 22

This holiday begins upon the first sighting of the crescent moon after a full moon. During the 30 days, observers must not eat or drink during the day but may at night. Thus, there is a a breakfast before dawn (suhoor), and a delicious dinner with family and friends after sunset (iftar), all to concentrate the mind on prayer, the Quran and helping others. The final day is called Eid al Fitr (the Holiday of breaking the fast).

To my knowledge, there are no music or paintings inspired by the good intentions of Ramadan.

Passover – April 5 to 13

Passover table setting

Passover table setting – Image: datafox, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Although many Jews refrain from leavened bread during the entire eight days, having unleavened Matzah instead, most restrict their big “seders” dinner celebrations to the first two evenings. Some leave an extra cup of wine on the table and the door open should the prophet Elijah visit. No unique significance to the other six days.

Cultural inspirations inspired by the above events:

Three traditional songs (in Hebrew) are popular: Dayenu, 15 verses thanking God for many gifts, although anyone would have been enough; Manishtanah, the youngest asking the Four Questions why this night is different; and Eliyahu Hanovi, Elijah the Prophet, for whom a later-day Beckett might well parody Godot with “Waiting for Elijah.”

Easter Holy Week – April 2 to 8

Also called “passion week,” it begins with the last week of Lent (which lasts 40 days).

Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Holy Monday, Jesus beats usurers in the temple.
Holy Tuesday, Jesus delivers the sermon at the Mount of Olives.
Holy Wednesday, Jesus rests in Bethany preparing for Passover supper.
Maundy Thursday, Jesus shares the Last Supper with his 12 disciples.

The Last Supper, Da Vinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci – Image: Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Good Friday, Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is crucified.
Holy Saturday, Jesus lies in the tomb.
Easter Sunday, Jesus is resurrected.

Cultural inspirations inspired by the above events:

A painting, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1493-95)
Music, Christ on the Mount of Olives Oratorio by Ludwig von Beethoven (1803)

Feature image: Ramadan delights, by Miansari66, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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