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    More Spring Holiday Information 

    (Click the links below to explore web sites that provide information about.that holiday.)

     
     
    Purim 
    Symbols of Judaism Purim (Hebrew: פּוּרִים) is a Jewish Holiday which commemorates Jewish people being saved from extermination in Persia. It is considered to be a joyous holiday and is often accompanied by celebrations, plays, festive food and costume parties. The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther, which is also known as "the Scroll" (Megillah in Hebrew).   In the Book of Esther the story is told of how Haman, a  high ranking advisor to King Ahasuerus, sought to kill all Jews in ancient Persia.  He is motivated by an incident in which Mordechai, a Jewish leader, defied the king's orders and refused to bow to Haman.  
    Purim - hammentaschen Haman is stopped through the actions of Mordechai and his niece Esther, a beautiful and courageous Jewish woman. Through their actions the King becomes aware of Haman's plot and Haman is punished and his vindictive  plot to kill the Jewish people is foiled.  (Read more here:  https://www.chabad.org/holidays/purim/article_cdo/aid/645309/jewish/What-Is-Purim.htm)   A quintessential dessert during Purim is "hammentaschen" cookies. The cookies are symbolic but there are multiple interpretations of the symbolism.  The most common interpretation is that they resemble the three cornered hat worn by Haman. A second possible interpretation is that in Hebrew the cookies are called “ozney Haman” which means “Haman’s ears” and refers to the custom of cutting off a criminal’s ears before his execution.  A third idea suggests that each corner of a hamantaschen represents one of the “fathers” of Judaism—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—whose “power” weakened Haman and gave strength to Esther to save the Jews (incidentally, tash in Hebrew means “weaken”). One more thought is that because the German word tasche means “pouch” or “pocket,” the cookies could signify Haman’s pockets and the money he offered to the king for permission to kill the Jews. (Read more here 01,  here 02, and here 03.)
     
     
    St Patrick's Day (March 17th)
    celtic shamrock

         

     

     Pesach (Passover)
    Passover image 2   -  
    Nissan 15-22 on the Hebrew calendar, Pesach 2018 (Passover) falls out at sundown on Friday, March 30, and ends at nightfall on Shabbat, April 7.
     
    Passover image 2 Pesach is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavu'ot and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15. The name "Pesach" (PAY-sahch, with a "ch" as in the Scottish "loch") comes from the Hebrew root Pei-Samekh-Cheit meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that  God "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In English, the holiday is known as Passover.
     
     
    Easter
    • The English word Easter is most likely from the Anglo-Saxon word Eastre, a pagan goddess whose festivals (called Eastron) were in the spring season. The festival represented the rising of the sun, new life and a new beginning.Easter is celeEaster Bunny brated by many as a strictly secular holiday. Click on the links below to find information about  many favorite traditions.
     
    Who is the Easter Bunny? (click here) The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the "Easter Hare", hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that "All life comes from an egg."   Nowadays on Easter Sunday, many children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around the house. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who finds the most eggs wins a prize.
    Easter egg decorating (click here)  Why we dye, or color, and decorate eggs is not certain. In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts.
     

     

    • The Christian Easter season  is made up of several holidays.   (Click here for an overview.)  The date each holiday is celebrated varies from year to year.   Before 325 A.D., Easter was celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox. In 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicaea, the Western Church resolved to established a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.  As astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, the Western Christian Church used these calculations to establish a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. ...Although modified marginally from its original form, by 1583 A.D. the table for determining the Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates was permanently established and has been used ever since to determine the date of Easter.  According to the Ecclesiastical tables, the Paschal Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20 (which happened to be the vernal equinox date in 325 A.D.). Thus, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon (https://www.thoughtco.com/when-is-easter-p2-700776)
       
    • Easter image 2  Ash Wednesday - (in 2018 this was celebrated on February 14th) marks the first day of Lent, a season of reflection, prayer and fasting and meditation on the events that led to Jesus' death on a cross.
    • Palm Sunday (March 25th)  is the Sunday before Easter Sunday, and marks the beginning of Holy Week. Christian churches distribute palms (and sometimes pussy willows) on Palm Sunday to commemorate Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem (a week before his crucifixion), when palm branches were placed in his path by cheering crowds who thought he would free them from Roman domination.
    • Maundy Thursday (March 29th) (also known as Holy Thursday) is the day on which Christians  celebrate the Last Supper, at which Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.  Its name of "Maundy" comes from the Latin word "mandatum", meaning "command." This stems from Christ's words in John 13:34, "A new commandment I give unto you:  Love one another as I have loved you."
    • Good Friday (March 30th)  Good Friday is the day that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the act that, according to the Christian faith, paid the debt for all sins and brings salvation to all who believe and accept the message of the good news of peace and a loving relationship between God and mankind that he taught. 
    • Resurrection Day, more commonly called "Easter" (April 1st) is the greatest feast in the Christian  calendar.  It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For Christians it is a day of great joy, because the resurrection offered proof that all that Jesus taught was true and reliable.
    • NOTE:  Due to following a different calendar, Greek Orthodox churches often celebrate slightly different dates.  In 2018 Greek Orthodox Christian churches will celebrate Easter on April 8th.  To read more about Greek Orthodox Easter click here.

     

    Lailat al Miraj

    (In  2018 this holiday will be celebrated on April 13th.)

    Lailat al Miraj symbol Lailatul Miraj (Arabic: الإسراء والمعراج) commemorates Prophet Muhammad's ascension to heaven. Muslims believe that on this night, an angel came to the Prophet, washed his abdomen with Zamzam water, and filled his heart with wisdom and belief. Then, Muhammad was called by God from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he prayed at the Masjid Al-Aqsa (Jerusalem). From Jerusalem, he ascended to heaven, where he was honored by being allowed to see God directly, visiting the highest levels of heaven, and leading all the past Prophets in prayer, including Joseph, Adam, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Jesus, and John the Baptist. 

    (Click here to read more.)

     

     PLEASE NOTEThe links above have been set up to provide helpful educational information for people who want to learn more about other cultures and traditions.  When you click on any of these links you will be leaving the Middletown Township Public Schools web site. The Middletown Township Public School District does not assume responsibility for content material posted on links beyond our site.