With Easter coming up and Passover being this week, the discussion of religion, the commercialization of religious holidays, and the cultural rituals associated with religion has been very popular among my friends and I.
I think what makes the best discussions the best discussions is the variance of opinion. For this blog post I asked a few of my friends to give me an anecdote of what this week means to them, whether it be Passover, chocolate bunnies, or Catholic liturgy.
“Judaism in general, has deep ties to its history and traditions. After being persecuted time and time again, tradition is deeply rooted in our rituals. If we had not held onto some of these key traditions, it is quite possible that Judaism would not exist today. Passover is a prime example of the rituals we have developed and continue to practice today. We come together around the same time every year, ask the same four questions, eat the same unleavened matzo and hope that next year, we’ll be in Jerusalem to celebrate. The repetition of these rituals never gets old to me. In fact I find comfort in knowing that while the world around me changes, I know that during Passover, and for that matter all Jewish holidays, the rituals and the traditions stay the same. So each year, however trivial it may seem, I dip parsley in salt water not once but twice, and sit with a pillow behind my back to remember my ancestors that came before me.”
“Springtime for me is not defined by matzos for Passover, or church services for Easter. My sister and I were raised in what you may call a “secular” household. My mom chose not to include religious leanings in our childhood, but instead our holidays revolved around school breaks and fabled figures. Easter for me was simply a time to celebrate the hopping of a giant bunny, literally. The end of my spring break was defined by dying Easter eggs, and leaving out our Easter baskets for the Easter Bunny. Jelly beans and chocolate bunnies (not that I like chocolate) were something I looked forward to Sunday morning. Until I was older did I actually realize that Easter had a different meaning besides candy. But even then, the thought of a resurrection seemed unrealistic, much like the Easter Bunny. Religion depends on the personal beliefs of each individual, and these beliefs are greatly influenced by family relations. Being raised in a household that never mentioned Jesus, or his death, I do not associate Easter with any type of religious distinction.”
“Ever since I was young I have loved the Easter Season especially Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter Sunday. Throughout Lent I take more time out of my life to improve my relationship with the Lord while at the same time attending the sacrament of Confession more frequently. I attend the services of Holy Week on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which focus on the events of the Last Supper and the Lord’s Passion. Holy Week prepares me for the celebration of Easter Sunday with the Catholic Community. I find it upsetting that many Christians have become “Easter-Christmas” Christians who only attend Church on those two days each year. All I can do is better myself to make the world a little better place and the Easter Season is a beautiful time to grow spiritually.”
Is this week equally as important to all three parties? Are their commitments to ritual just as strong? Is the fact that this week can have deep significance to multiple people but for different reasons, what makes this week so special?