Holy Weekend

Passover, Good Friday & Easter

In the Jewish Faith, the Seder marks the observance of Passover.  For those of you who don’t know, Jesus was a Jew and the Seder (Passover) was the Last Supper before his crucifixion on a Friday.  This is where 2 similar religions split:  Jews regard Jesus as a prophet, Christians regard Jesus as the son of God, but both agree in the First Testament of the Bible and the significance of Jesus. No matter how you slice, dice or divide it, this is a very significant holiday for both faiths, no matter what you call it or what the traditions call for.

Sunday is Easter, its always on a Sunday.  Passover and Easter holiday dates change often depending on the calendar they follow (Christmas is ALWAYS December 25th) but Chanukah varies, as does Passover & Easter), however this year of 2012 Passover & Easter come on the same day which is very rare.

The Jewish people eat Matzo or Matzah which is unleavened (bread that does not rise), its more like a cracker, but I’ve always loved the taste of it.  Being Italian-American, I always ate Matzah in my house.  Why? Because my mother always found a coupon for it free from the supermarket, and she having grown up during the depression, would never turn down free food of any kind.  So she bought it, and quite honestly, I liked it.  Then I found another tip:  serve it with apples and honey.  If for nothing else, you can grind it up and use as bread crumbs or coating for frying, or even as crackers for soups.  You can even use it to make Matzah Ball Soup if you grind it up, mold it together for other ingredients and serve.

Me?  I love seafood, so eating fish any day of the week is great, but in the Catholic faith, fish is typically eaten on Good Friday.  Sure, it can be pizza too, as long as there is no meat like pepperoni or sausage or even chicken.  If you accidentally eat meat, no, you are not going to hell.  As long as you hadn’t realized it, but were still observing you should not be eating meat, its fine.  Its NOT about NOT eating meat, its about being aware and observing the death of Jesus Christ.  Here is an example, It was Good Friday but me and my friends were on a skiing trip in South Lake Tahoe.  They all wanted steak on the grill (mind you, we were all Italian) but thats what they wanted and I was the designated cook.  While they ate steak, I ate salad, bread, roasted peppers, mozzarella, and even the Stove Top Stuffing as a side which was served with the steak. One pointed out that after reading the ingredients said I had sinned because chicken stock was used as an ingredient in the stuffing, but I just laughed.  That was a stretch.  I didn’t know chicken stock was used in it for flavoring (dehydrated nonetheless).  Sorry to disappoint her, but no, I did not sin.  I was observant, I refrained from the charcoal grilled steaks, and only ate bread and vegetables and just because I had some stuffing with a “hidden” dehydrated ingredient of chicken stock, I am confident I would not be going to hell.  If I am going to hell, that would be about the 1,000th item down on the list.  I can’t be sure what people of other faiths think but I know sometimes food comes into play.  And, I think that if you eat something your faith says you shouldn’t, I don’t think its a death sentence.  I am not sure what your God believes in, but in my beliefs, I can’t rob, cheat, steal, commit immoral acts but then back it up with “its ok, I didn’t eat these 3 foods at these 3 particular times” – that ain’t going to stick with the God I know.   I think in the worst case scenario, it would be more like “you were good, moral, did not cheat or steal, but I really wish you had made these minor sacrifices as sign of good faith knowing I gave up so much more”.  That would be reasonable from my point of view.

So, no meat tomorrow, there will be fasting, only one full meal, perhaps a slice of pizza for lunch, fish for dinner with a salad… and as long as I am not having bacon and eggs for breakfast, burger for lunch and steak for dinner, I think the God I believe in will appreciate I was observing religious tradition.

After all, once Sunday comes, we have lamb, ham, meatballs, sausage, and personally I am thinking of making an Osso Bucco. No matter how you celebrate or what you eat, I do think keeping tradition is always important.  No matter which country, nationality, religion or faith you come from, maintaining an identity to your parents, grandparents and ancestors is important.  It gives us substance, it gives us culture, it gives us morals and it reminds us that while today things might be insane, unjust and often unfair, we still maintain a connection with the past and if we can do that, we are rich in spirit knowing we can survive for generations the same way our parents and ancestors did, finding comfort in the simpler things in life.

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