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Religious Holidays in April

Ramadan: Ramadan is the Islamic Holiday marked by the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During this month Muslims from across the globe participate in fasting each day from sunrise until sunset. Muslims fast to strengthen the values of discipline and integrity as well as to grow in their relationship wit God. It is a time of reverent reflection meant to separate Muslims from material needs such as food and water in order to help connect them more closely with their spiritual needs of God. Muslims celebrate this month as it is believed that God reveled the Quran, the Islamic holy book, to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). All in all this month is not just a month of fasting but also one of charity and generosity that inspires Muslims to do good deeds for people around the world and to live the message of the Quran. -Noor Huda

Passover: With the beginning of Spring comes one of the biggest Jewish holidays, Passover! Although my family is no longer practicing the religion of Judaism, I was born Orthodox Jewish (the most traditional branch of the religion) and am still considered a Jew due to my ancestry. As a young child, I celebrated Passover and the holiday still holds a lot of meaning to me! Passover is celebrated in March or April, for 7 to 8 days. The holiday is a commemoration of the Jews’ escape from Egypt (which you can read about in the book of Exodus). In this story, God creates 10 plagues in Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. God then helps the prophet Moses split the Red Sea in half, allowing the Israelites to pass through it, and provides Manna for the people to survive for 40 years in the desert while traveling to safety. Passover is a holiday of gratitude. During the week, Jews give thanks to God for allowing the people to escape bondage and survive. The lyrics of the song “Dayenu,” which is a Hebrew song often sung during Passover, summarizes the reason behind the holiday: “If God had split the Sea for us and had not taken us through it on dry land, it would have been enough. If God had taken us through it on dry land and had not pushed down our enemies in the Sea, it would have been enough. If God had pushed down our enemies in the Sea and had not supplied our needs in the wilderness for forty years, it would have been enough.” The song praises God for performing so many miracles, even though we would have been grateful for only one miracle! The main ways that people celebrate Passover are by holding Seders, or ceremonial meals during which the story of Moses and the Israelites is told. During a Seder, dishes such as eggs, horseradish, lamb bones, matzo ball soup, and wine are served to reflect the both the struggles and triumphs of the Israelites in the story of the Exodus. In addition, Jews traditionally do not eat bread that has risen in the oven to remember how quickly the Israelites had to flee Egypt: so quickly that their bread did not even have time to rise! Many Orthodox Jews clean their homes thoroughly to get rid of any trace of leavened bread. Passover this year begins on the evening of April 15th and ends on the evening of April 23rd. Although Passover is not a Christian holiday, all are welcome to reflect on and express gratitude towards God during the week. Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover)! -Esther Appelstein

Easter 1 Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. For Catholics, Easter is the most important holiday in the liturgical year as it is the basis of the entire faith. We believe that after Jesus died, he overcame sin and death so that we would all have a chance in Heaven with him. Jesus’s resurrection is more important than even Christmas because in being born, Jesus proved that he was 100% human, and rising from the dead he proved that he was 100% divine. That is what made him different from the rest of us, we were all born but none of us have died and came back to life days later. Easter is celebrated by Catholic families all around the world, in the United States many children wake up to find baskets filled with little gifts from the Easter Bunny and participate in Easter egg hunts. While these traditions are not only for Catholics they can symbolize spring and how spring means new life and new beginnings just like Jesus’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. -Naomi Hammell