For many of us, this weekend will be spent celebrating with our friends and families. It will be a weekend full of happiness and laughter, reflection and prayer. This weekend Jews will gather together for the first night of Passover and perform their ritual Seder dinner, while Christians will commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For both Jews and Christians, this weekend contains some of the most important religious observances of the year.
Tomorrow night at sundown marks the beginning of Passover. One of the three pilgrimage festivals, Passover is a seven or eight day long holiday that celebrates the Jews' Exodus from Egypt, as they were freed from slavery and began their journey out into the desert. Families will gather and begin their Seder meals while reading the Haggadah and eating traditional Passover food. They will eat unleavened bread, matzah, instead of bread, as is commanded by the Torah. They will sing songs, and their children will ask the "four questions" that encourage discussion on the importance and significance of the meal and the holiday. Passover is a very significant holiday, and by following the rituals of Passover, Jews have the opportunity to relive and remember the experiences of their ancestors who, after years of slavery, gained their freedom.
For Christians, the weekend starts tomorrow on a somber note. Good Friday is the day of Holy Week that is observed to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. Christians around the world mark the day with prayer services, and some have processions that mark the Stations of the Cross -- Christ's final path before his crucifixion. While Good Friday is a somber, prayer filled day, this weekend is also Easter Sunday. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and is the most important feast of the year for Christians. It marks the end of Lent -- a forty day period of prayer and penance -- and signifies that Jesus is truly the Son of God, and through His resurrection He brings a new birth for all Christians.
And so, from my family to yours, I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all of you who are celebrating this weekend a very happy Easter and Passover. Enjoy the holidays and your time together with your closest friends and families.