A Look Into Ramadan, Easter and Passover

Ava Smith , Arts and Reviews Editor

This April is very special in that three major religious holidays are occuring seemingly back-to-back: Ramadan, Passover and Easter.

Ramadan began March 22, and is approximately a month-long celebration, ending when the crescent moon is at its thinnest crescent. Ramadan follows a lunar calendar, meaning that the time of year Ramadan occurs changes each year. Ramadan primarily consists of fasting, which has different standards for each person. 

“Traditionally, a full fast day begins at sunrise and iftar (breaking the fast) begins an hour after sunset,” said Rey Noori, a sophomore at Hart. 

“When kids want to fast, they wake up at suhur, have a little snack to eat, but they fast until noon which is when they have iftar. Often, when kids do participate in Ramadan, towards the end parents give them a gift. Like, maybe a gold bracelet or a trip to the amusement park, just as a gift to signify that what they did was good, and it’s good that they are trying to expand their horizons and try new things,” Noori said. 

“Ramadan symbolizes getting in touch with those that don’t have as much as us, and being able to sympathize with them. It is seen as a ‘donation of health.’ Even at the end, we donate a small sum of money to charities as a donation of money along with the health,” Noori said. 

“Around iftar time, people that are better off or have more resources than others invite a large group of people to their house and serve them iftar. Or, they make a huge pot of scholezar, a pudding dessert, and aush, a soup with noodles, and give it to everyone who passes by on the street.”

When fasting, many Muslims wake up at suhur (the last meal eaten before Ramadan, which begins an hour before sunrise) to ensure that they have the fuel needed to progress through the day. Noori also has fond memories of her family eating certain foods after fasting for the day, during iftar. 

“There is always one night that we all go to the mosque, and they just say a bunch of prayers. Then, we all break fast together and have iftar,” Noori said. 

“During iftar, we drink a lot of water. My mom likes to drink warmer water. We also drink a lot of aush, which is super good. We also have a lot of herbs, bread and specific types of cheese, like goat cheese. We have a lot of dates, too. Those are super good.”

The end of Ramadan is celebrated through Eid-al-Fitr, a huge celebration and feast amongst loved ones.

“It’s seen as a new year celebration. We have a bunch of food, we have a party, we have decorations. It’s really fun. You invite everyone you love, and sometimes people that you don’t even know that well just to have them over and celebrate breaking fast,” Noori said. 

Noori wants to emphasize that participating in Ramadan is somebody’s choice, and that no one is forced to fast.

“Some Muslims fast, but not all of them. It all depends on the person. We have a thing if you’re traveling, or if you’re sick, or for other personal reasons, you can just not fast. Or, if you just don’t want to. It’s always a choice. A lot of people choose to do it, though,” Noori said. 

Passover is occurring during the one-month duration of Ramadan and shortly before Easter, April 5. Passover represents Isrealites in Egypt’s escape from slavery, which is also called the Forty Year Journey. 

Passover begins with a ceremonial dinner, called Seder. During Seder, the story of Exodus is told. Adults drink wine throughout the story. This element of Passover is one that causes Ridley Downs, a senior at Hart High School, to reminisce on fond memories.

“The amount of wine that adults are required to drink is hilarious,” Downs said. “When I was little, my dad would sit with me and watch my aunts get more and more fun as the night went on.” 

A typical Seder dinner plate consists of several food items that have symbolic meanings. These foods represent the hardship that Jewish people had to endure throughout the Forty Year Journey, and include zeroah, beitzah, haroset, mar’or, karpas and matzah bread. Zeroah is a lamb’s shankbone, and it symbolizes the ancient Passover sacrifice, when God ordered Moses to tell Isrealite families that they must sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doors of their houses. Beitzah also represents this sacrifice. 

Haroset, karpas and mar’or all symbolize the hardship that Israelites faced during slavery and elements of their labor that created the pharaoh’s temples in Egypt. 

One Passover dish that Downs has vivid memories of is matzah bread, which is meant to represent the hardship that Isrealites experienced during the Forty Year Journey.

“The Jews, because they were being followed, had no time to let the bread rise. So, all the bread that they made was just flour and water. They would bake it and it would be just flat,” Downs said. 

The converse of matzah bread is challah bread. 

“Every Friday, Jewish people celebrate Shabbat, where we have challah bread. It’s very risen, it has an egg base, and it’s really delicious, especially with french toast,” Downs said. 

Nowadays, Passover and retellings of the Forty Year Journey can create positive memories associated with family. 

“My mom will cook everything, but my grandmother will come over and make matzah ball soup. I will usually make the matzah bread, which is hard because it has to be made a certain way for it to be Kosher. I love that because it’s the three of us in the kitchen together. I do love the camaraderie of that. I love experiencing that with my family, with three different generations,” Downs said. 

Easter, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, occurs just four days after Passover. Similarly to Ramadan and Passover, Easter is a cherished time spent with family and loved ones. 

“I have a three-year-old brother, and the whole thing is a scavenger hunt and finding the eggs. Waking up that morning and knowing that there’s something outside that you can look for is always exciting,” said Nathalia Raio, a freshman at Hart. 

Leading up to Easter, Catholics celebrate Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus successfully walking into Jerusalem, and is the beginning of the Holy Week. Good Friday occurs two days before Easter, and commemorates the day that Jesus was crucified. Both Catholics and Christians generally go to Church on Easter, and listen to a sermon that centers around Easter. Many churches play worship songs centered around Easter that visitors sing to as well.