I am from a mixed family. We range from devout Roman Catholics to more-Jewish-than-you-probably-think-of-when-you-think-of-Jewish. I am neither, but it has given me a different perspective on the different traditions. This is the week when my family’s different worlds collide. The biggest holiday of the Christian tradition coincides with one of the big three of the Jewish tradition. One thing struck me this year, and I’m surprised that I’d never thought of it before.
Last week, I was talking to someone who said, “What do rabbits and eggs have to do with Christ rising from the dead anyway?” I just shrugged and didn’t think much of it until I was sitting at the Seder the other night. As I was listening to the thorough explanation of the meal and what each thing symbolizes and why we follow the rituals that we follow, it struck me that this is a major practical difference between typical Judaism and typical Christianity. Jews always explain their symbols while Christians embrace their mysteries.
If Easter were a Jewish holiday, the Easter Egg Hunt would open with a speech. And during the speech, someone would say, “And the eggs are hidden to remind us of the long winter and then found to remind us of the rebirth of spring, eggs being used to symbolize new life. . .” If Passover were a Christian holiday, we’d just get, “Bless us O Lord for these gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen,” and everyone would start eating. Someone would then say, “What’s with the matzah?” and everyone would shrug, some older person would say, “It’s tradition!” and everyone would keep on eating.
I don’t really have a preference. On the one hand, I like a little mystery in my life. It’s somehow comforting to do things just because that’s how we do them. On the other hand, it’s nice knowing there is a real reason behind the rituals. I’m kind of lucky to get both.