Celebrating Easter, Muharram or Eid al-Fitr

The changing of the calendar can mark an inflection point in the Christian calendar, but in many countries around the world, Orthodox Christmas or, for Muslims, Eid al-Fitr, is celebrated on the last day of the month of Muharram. Typically, the four religions observe these days in a similar fashion, focusing on the suffering of the prophet Abraham, with Palm Sunday remembrances starting on the Sunday closest to the Easter equinox, while Eid al-Fitr takes place on the day when the first fruits of Ramadan were ready for collection. For most Orthodox and Muslims, it is the Friday closest to the lunar new year. To observe Muharram, followers recite the names of the martyrs, mourn their passing and fast for the 30 days to repent. Festivities and symbolism draw from the past. Muslim practice involves uncovering of the souq, meditation and even fasting to evoke the fasting of the Prophet Abraham and his family as they prepared to sacrifice their sacred animal. Arabs worship Samothrace, the imputed progeny of the Ark of the Covenant, a mawashi that will, according to tradition, be placed in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Sephardic Jews conduct Yom Kippur, a day of fasting, penitence and self-denial. Orthodox Jews remember the sacrifices that Abraham made to fulfill his religious obligation and to counteract the three temptations before God that he would not undertake: to yield the innocent, to allow his son to be sacrificed and to provide for the two daughters.

Leave a Comment