This month brings a remarkable confluence of religious observances. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is already underway, having started April 2. Passover begins at sundown on Friday, the same day that Christians mark Good Friday. And Easter falls on Sunday the 17th.
This is a relatively rare occurrence—it happens only about once every 33 years—and so it is a special opportunity to raise our voices, each of us in our own way, in celebration of our faiths and our shared hope for a better world.
This comes, as we know, at a moment of great tribulations. Overseas, the murderous invasion of Ukraine has horrified the civilized world. Here in the U.S. we seem to be emerging from the two-year nightmare of Covid-19, yet the sense of relief is shadowed by a new variant that could bring another wave of infections. And the political and social divisions among us tear at the fabric of our society.
But this season can also be a time of new beginnings. The very fact that these three great religions are celebrating holy events during the same span of time can be both a symbol and a catalyst for coming together with renewed determination to overcome the things that divide us and to embrace the things that unite us—faith, hope and courage.
Here are some fascinating facts about Ramadan, Passover and Easter:
- Ramadan is remembered as the month in which the Prophet Muhammad received the first of the revelations that make up the Quran.
- Because Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, the holiday starts 11–12 days earlier than it did the previous year. It takes about 33 Islamic years for Ramadan to return to the same place on the Gregorian calendar.
- Like most Jewish holidays, Passover falls on different days of the year because its date is determined by the Jewish calendar which is lunisolar—that is, based on the cycles of both the sun and the moon.
- Passover begins on the 15th day of Nisan, which is the first month of the Jewish year.
- Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, surpassing Yom Kippur and Hanukkah.
- Easter is the oldest Christian holiday. It takes place on a Sunday after the 40 days of Lent.
- The Easter egg is said to symbolize and represent joy, celebration and new life.
- The idea of the Easter bunny giving candies and eggs is believed to have originated in Germany during the Middle Ages.