Easter and Passover are closely intertwined with one another, and not just because they occur around the same time each year.
The Old Testament speaks of the Last Supper, the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus that occurred before the resurrection, and in the early days of the church (the first 200 years or so), the faithful commemorated the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same day as Passover.
Catholics, however, generally do not celebrate Passover this way any longer – and haven’t for hundreds and hundreds of years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Catholics cannot celebrate Passover, it’s just that this holiday is much more intrinsic to the Jewish faith than it is to the Catholic faith.
Catholics | Jewish Passover Celebration
While there are certainly some Catholics that celebrate Passover still today, by and large the overwhelming majority of practicing Catholics do not.
Easter is instead a much more important part of the Catholic faith, as is the 40 days leading up to Easter (Lent).
It’s also important to remember that Passover is more of a celebration of the Exodus from Egypt by the Jewish people. These holidays are celebrated similarly (usually with a family gathering and a feast), but they are two distinctly different holidays for two distinctly different faiths.
Catholics are encouraged, though, to be respectful during Passover – and many even decide to take Jewish friends and family members up on their invitation to Passover seders. There’s nothing wrong with that!
How Are Lent, Easter, and Passover Related?
As highlighted a moment ago, there are quite a few similarities and interesting relationships between the Jewish celebration of Passover and the Catholic celebration of Lent and Easter.
Passover is something described in the Old Testament, particularly in the Book of Exodus. Moses goes to the Pharaoh in Egypt, asks that his people be freed, and is aggressively rebuffed. God in response sends twelve plagues to Egypt, with the last of these plagues seeing the Angel of Death roam Egypt to kill the firstborn son of every family.
In advance of the Angel of Death sweeping through the country God told Moses to sacrifice a young lamb, hold a feast, and use the blood of the lamb to put across over their doorway so that the Angel of Death new to pass them over and spare their lives.
In the Jewish faith, the lambs in the Passover passages are quite literally lambs. In the Christian faith, however, the lamb is believed to be symbolic of Jesus and the sacrifice he made to spare humanity.
This is why Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God.
Can Catholics Attend a Passover Meal?
There’s nothing wrong whatsoever for Catholics to attend a Passover meal, especially if they have been invited to the meal by their Jewish friends and family members.
It is, however, important to remember that this Passover meal is a cornerstone element of the Jewish feast – it belongs to them and them alone.
Attending these meals can be a great opportunity to learn more about the Jewish faith, to connect with and to deepen the relationship you have with your Jewish friends and family members, and a great way to experience a traditional celebration that you may not have otherwise had an opportunity to experience.
It’s always polite to ask if you should bring something, but don’t be surprised if you’re told that the only thing you need to bring is yourself and your loved ones!
Catholics do not traditionally celebrate Passover, especially not to the same level or degree of seriousness that those of the Jewish faith well.
At the same, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that there is nothing in common between Passover and the Easter celebration (maybe the most important day in all of Catholicism). There are a lot of interesting similarities, a lot of shared history, and the tapestry of the Jewish faith and Catholicism are enriched because of it.
If you’d like to learn a little bit more about Passover (as well as ancient Easter traditions) the Old Testament is a great place to start your research. And if you have a chance to attend a Passover celebration embrace that opportunity to share something special with those that mean so much to you.