The spring holidays (Easter and Passover) mark my favorite time of year. The ground begins to thaw, buds make their way up through the soil and the ground comes alive again. Year after year, my garden is reborn after a deep sleep –signs of transformation abound. As everything in my yard wakes up, a renewed hope and the promise of abundance emerge as well. This lovely time of transformation is the perfect backdrop for Passover and Easter.

Since Easter is in less than a week, I’m selecting some of my favorite spring recipes for you, using fresh, seasonal ingredients such as asparagus, spinach and rosemary to create a delicious, healthy, gluten free Easter menu. This meal plan is for an afternoon Easter dinner; for a more brunchy Easter meal, just add in some muffin and scone recipes and remove the roasted chicken from your menu.

And now for some spring holiday trivia. Figuring the date for Passover is easy for me, as Jewish holidays are “fixed” on the Jewish calendar which is lunar. Many Jewish holidays fall on the full moon (middle of the month) on the Jewish calendar. Therefore, Passover always falls on the same day of the Jewish calendar; the 15th day of the month of Nisan, and Pesach is always on the full moon.

Easter however, can occur two times in one year –one Sunday celebrated by Western churches and one Sunday by Eastern churches. Both churches actually use the same formula for calculating the date on which Easter falls –the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. However the churches base their dates for Easter on different calendars. Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older, Julian calendar.

According to Borgna Brunner, “The two churches vary on the definition of the vernal equinox and the full moon. The Eastern Church sets the date of Easter according to the actual, astronomical full moon and equinox, while the Western church does not use the astronomically correct date for the vernal equinox, but a fixed date (March 21).“ For the Eastern church, Easter always falls after Passover. In the Western Church, Easter sometimes precedes Passover by weeks.

So, this Easter thing is pretty complicated to us Jews who follow our lunar calendar. Though in terms of the actual holiday, things are pretty simple; I don’t do any Easter festivities other than buying the boys a few jelly beans from a bin at Whole Foods the week before the holiday. Sometimes we go to a friends house for a little Easter repast, however, more often than not, we forget about it. In fact, one year, I was such a moron, that I accidentally planned (and threw) my son’s birthday on Easter Sunday. Now that’s what I call rude.

What does Easter mean to you? Did you have an awareness of why this holiday falls on a different Sunday each year? Will you be celebrating Easter? If so, how?


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