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April Religious Celebrations

Religion is such a big part in many peoples lives, some have it as a foundation and tap into it when they need it, and others live and breath it in everything they do. April has so many wonderful religious holidays and here is a blog to honour the ones I found. Please note this is only a high level debrief and if you want to learn more about any of them there is lots of information on the internet. I was very surprised on how special food traditions is customary in all of the festivities.

If you celebrate any of these, enjoy celebrating traditions and making cherished memories.

Islam – Ramadan one of the five pillars of Islam, this started March 23rd and ends on April 21st. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims around the world as a holy month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. It celebrates the month Muhammad received the initial revelations of the Quran, the holy book for Muslims. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk each day. It is time to practice self-restraint and self-reflection. Fasting is seen as a time to cleanse the soul and have empathy for those who are hungry and less fortunate. The conclusion of Ramadan is marked with Eid al-Fitr, a celebration of fast-breaking. It includes special prayers, meals with family and friends, and exchange of special gifts. It starts the day after Ramadan ends and lasts for three days.

Jain – Mahavir Janma Kalyanak is one of the most important religious festivals in Jainism and celebrated April 4th this year. It celebrates the birth anniversary of Mahavir Jayanti of the 24th Tirthankara Mahavir, who played a significant role in preaching Jainism. It is said when Mahavir was 30 years old he abandoned all his worldly possession in search for a spiritual path. Jains around the world celebrate this day by with a procession, volunteering, praying and observing fasts. They also eat satvik food which is freshly prepared vegetarian meals without onion or garlic.

Christians / Orthodox – As an Italian Catholic we celebrate Holy week on Palm Sunday which was Sunday April 2nd this year and Easter Triduum started yesterday which consists of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. It reflects on Jesus’ last supper, his crucifixion and his resurrection. Note: Orthodox churches follow the same celebrations April 16th this year as they base Easter dates on Julian calendar which differs from the Gregorian calendar. During these celebrations family get together to commemorate that Jesus died for humanities sins and they celebrate by eating great food, having lots and lots of chocolates for the kids and more recent the Easter Bunny helps with hiding the chocolates. It’s about sharing cherished memories with family and friends, while remembering Jesus died for our sins.

Judaism – Passover starts on Wednesday April 5th and ends on Thursday April 13th this year. It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. The main ritual is seder, which the book of Haggadah is recited and at a festive meal. During the meal, the story of the Exodus is retold and there is song and consumption of ritual foods such as matzah and maror. During this holiday it is forbidden to eat leavened food such as bread and pasta. Jewish tradition states that in the haste to escape Egypt the Jews didn’t have enough time to wait for the bread to rise and ate matzah, unleavened bread. Part of Passover seder includes hiding the afikomen – half the matzah that is kept between two other matzahs during seder and later hidden so children search for it and claim a prize.

Hindu and Sikhs – Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi is celebrated on April 14th this year and for the Hindu community it marks the start of the ancient spring festival celebrating the Solar New Year. For the Sikhs community is commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors in 1699 and also celebrates with a harvest festival as a reminder of the order which promotes justice and equality. Celebrations begin with worship and after that there is a day of wearing colourful traditional clothing, taking part in a parades, folk singing and dancing. This is also the tradition of langar where anyone in the community, rich or poor, are welcome to share a meal.

As a Roman Catholic, I celebrate Easter. Thankfully we moved into our new home in Arona Italy and have a big enough kitchen to make my mom's traditional Cuzzupe Calabrese di Pasqua. They are delicious any time of year.


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