Holidays offer a time for a fresh start

Write to the Point


This is an interesting week as it marks the juxtaposition of two religious observances important to two different faiths, yet very intertwined.

Tuesday, March 26, marked the beginning of Passover for members of the Jewish community, an important holiday, if you can call it a holiday that runs through April 2. The same goes with the other holiday, Easter, which for many Christians begins today with Maundy Thursday and culminates Sunday with Easter.

I raise the issue of calling these observances holidays because, unlike other holidays, most people don’t receive time off from work and most businesses don’t close. It’s too bad in a sense because in the scheme of both religions, Passover and Easter are actually probably the most important.

They’re what define both beliefs. I can’t speak much to Passover as I’m not Jewish and don’t know too many people who are, which is a shame. Most people, like myself, have a rudimentary understanding of why it’s celebrated.

For Jewish people, it really marks the beginning – the beginning of a lot of things. The beginning of freedom after centuries in captivity, the beginning of the resuming search for the land promised to them by God, the beginning of the nation of Israel, a new life.

For Christians, it’s also a beginning, although in a different sense. Like Passover, the beginning is associated with death, in Christianity’s case, the death of one rather than many.

And also like Passover, that death is the first step towards new life, a rebirth, but it’s not something that is meant to be tangible, held or seen. Christians believe it’s a step towards a nation, but not a nation of this world.

I’ve found it’s difficult to talk about religion, especially in this context. If you’re not religious enough for some people, you’re accused of being influenced by the secular world around you and not firm in your beliefs. If you’re too religious, those who don’t practice or aren’t as devote, accuse you of being preachy.

But no matter how you view it, religion in some form plays a huge role in today’s world. Witness how many people the world over, Catholic or not, religious or not, were captivated by the selection of Catholicism’s new leader, Pope Francis I.

Look at the debate in this country over gay marriage and rights, abortion – something that isn’t directly mentioned in the Bible but nonetheless generates religious fervor, sometimes not for the good. Even the discussion of the role wealth and its pursuit is tied to religion, although those who attempt to do so are often labeled with a moniker that’s ironically not religious – socialist.

Religion affects us all even non-believers. Most everyone wants and believes in second chances, and religion is, or should be, about that. A chance to change, to shuck off the old and start new with a clean slate.

And that’s what this week is about with Passover and Easter. It’s a chance for everyone to re-evaluate where they are, what they’re doing, why they’re so angry sometimes at things or people they can’t control and hopefully come to the conclusion that despite all this, despite the weight of the world’s worries and problems, we are all worthy of those second chances, of a new life.


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