Easter Traditions and a Week of Passover in Marshall, Illinois

For those who follow the true traditions of Easter, Sunday, March 31, will be a day of great Celebration. Sunday, March 24, is Palm Sunday, the start of Easter week.


Passover Week

This week, our Jewish townsfolk are celebrating Passover, a week commemorating the end of the Israelites’ slavery and escape from Egypt. The Seder is the main ritual that happens the first two nights of the holiday. Family and friends gather to enjoy a festive meal, where they eat traditional foods that include matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs). At the meals, participants tell stories and sing songs about the great exodus from Egypt to become free of slavery.


Easter Week

From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, every day has meaning and lessons to learn.

Palm Sunday: That Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. The crowds welcomed Jesus by waving branches and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” This is why Christians receive and give palm fronds on Palm Sunday.

Monday: This is the day history tells us that Jesus visited the Temple in the city and found it full of corrupt people. He flipped tables and cleared out the Temple, saying, “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”


Tuesday: Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, where he gave the Olivet Discourse, a speech filled with parables about the destruction of Jerusalem. It is also believed that on that Tuesday, Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ with the Jewish leaders.

Holy Wednesday:  This is the only day without records of what Jesus did. Perhaps it was a day where he rested.

Thursday: Passover – Tensions were mounting between Jesus and the religious leaders. This is the Passover dinner in which Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.

Good Friday: The day of the trial when Jesus did not defend himself but rather claimed that he was the Son of God to the outrage of the religious leaders. Jesus was made to wear a crown of thorns and carry a heavy cross through the city and up the mountain of Calvary. There, He was nailed to the cross alongside two criminals. At the ninth hour, Jesus died on the cross. That evening, two men placed the body in a tomb and rolled a stone over it.

Saturday: This was the Sabbath when Jewish people did not work. At 6 p.m., people went to the tomb to perform the ceremonial preparation for burial.

Easter Sunday: The stone had been moved, and Jesus was not in the tomb. Christians celebrate Jesus’s rising from the dead and ascending to heaven on this day.

Here in Marshall, we have many churches, and each one will celebrate Easter week in its own way. Easter and Passover also mark the beginning of the Spring season. The colors of Easter are spring colors: yellows, pinks, and purples, which are also the colors of spring flowers.


The Easter Food:

While Passover has traditional foods, Easter has a variety of favorite foods.

The Eggs: Of course, there are the Easter Eggs, with the tradition of coloring them in bright spring colors, which the kids love to do even if it is messy. What’s more fun to eat are the chocolate eggs. Making them out of chocolate began in France and Germany in the early 1800s. By 1875, a man with a name you might recognize became one of the most famous makers of these little delights—Mr. Cadbury! Ever heard of him?

Hot Cross Buns:

The cross on top is meant to reflect the crucifixion and these are often part of the meal at Easter.

The Meat:

Lamb: Lamb was the main meat of the Jewish Passover meal long before it was a traditional Easter menu item. It is thought that lamb is served to reflect the concept that Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God’ who sacrificed himself at Easter.

Ham: Ham is often more popular for the Easter table. There’s no deep meaning behind it. It is a popular and readily available meat here and in Northern Europe, so it became the common meat eaten as part of the Easter tradition.

We have been celebrating the Easter Holiday here in Marshall with Easter Egg Hunts and opportunities to meet the Easter Bunny. As we celebrate both Passover and Easter, we remember to include others in our meals and celebrations and to enjoy time with family and friends.