What Jewish holidays are the equivalent of each Christian holiday?

First of all: there are no straight-forward equivalents.

The question seems to imply that Christianity adopted its beliefs, prayers and holidays from a mother religion, Judaism.  However, recent students of religion suggest that far from being mother-daughter religions, Christianity and Judaism emerged at the same time over the first four centuries of the Common Era, and were siblings, perhaps even fraternal twins: to an extent in close contact but also in opposition and competition.

At the same time, some Christian holidays do indeed reflect interpretations of Jewish holidays (and vice versa):

Christmas as the first holiday of the church year has no equivalent in Judaism. Its date probably relies on the winter solistice or a Roman holiday. At the same time, Chanukkah, the Festival of Lights is a great example for the ways in which Judaism and Christianity continue to relate to each other:  in the wake of the commercialization of Christmas in the US, Chanukkah, a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish calendar,  has become a majorholiday for kids.

In many churches, Easter is the most important holiday, celebrating and commemorating the death and resurrection of Christ and the beginning of the Church. Easter created and defined religious identity. This is not so different from Passover, the holiday recalling and reinterpreting the Exodus experience. In fact, according to the synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ last meal was a ritual Passover meal called seder. For centuries, the two holidays related to and competed with each other, and Easter was often a precarious time for Jews. You can read more in Israel Yuval’s groundbreaking Two Nations In Your Womb).

Pentecost celebrates the pouring out of the holy spirit over the mourning community in Jerusalem as described in the book of Acts. Pentecost has an equivalent in the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot), a holiday occurring six weeks after Passover that also celebrates authority, namely the giving of the Torah.


One response to “What Jewish holidays are the equivalent of each Christian holiday?

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