Easter is a Christian festival held to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus which happened on the third day after his death. Christians celebrate the triumph of Jesus over death and evil during this period. According to them, this is a time to celebrate the victory of life over darkness, evil, sin, and death. As they do so, they believe that various aspects of their lives, which seem dead, will resurrect.

Do Jews celebrate Easter?
A Jew praying.

They believe that through the resurrection of Jesus from death, they will experience life and victory in different aspects of their lives. Christians mark this festival by holding church services and others carry out various cultural traditions. But inasmuch as Christians view Easter as a very significant festival in their faith, Jews have a different perspective.

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When Christians celebrate Easter, Jews celebrate a very different festival. They celebrate the Passover feast. The Passover is a festival that is held in commemoration of the liberation of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.”

Exodus 12:12-14

They celebrate the Passover to remember the day when the Spirit of the Lord passed over Israelites’ houses but destroyed the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. The death of the Egyptian firstborn sons is the plague that made Pharaoh let go of the Israelites. As Christians hold church services to celebrate Easter, Jews celebrate the Passover festival with liturgical readings, prayers, and family meals.

Jesus also, because He was a Jew, celebrated the Passover. It was during one of the Passover festivals that He shared the Last Super with His disciples. However, Jews do not celebrate Easter since they do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. They don’t believe in the resurrection accounts of Jesus. Therefore, they find no spiritual meaning in the Easter holiday. But why don’t Jews celebrate Easter yet Jesus was a Jew?

Do Jews celebrate Easter?
Two Jews in prayer.
  • Jews believe that God commanded them to celebrate Passover but there is no reference that calls for the celebration of Easter. They believe Easter is not a festival of the Lord. Festivals of the Lord that the Jews acknowledge and celebrate are the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:4-7 reads, “These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month, the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.” According to them, the Passover festival is a feast that was ordained by God while Easter is a human tradition. They believe that if they take part in or celebrate festivals that came into existence as a result of human beliefs and traditions, they will be sinning against God. Colossians 2:8 forms the foundation for their attitude towards the Easter holiday; “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” They believe that even though Easter may be significant to Christians, Jesus did not command them to observe it annually. Observing it means that they have been taken captive through philosophies that depend on human traditions. Remember that the Jews emphasize a literal interpretation of every Word in the Bible and therefore they cannot do or practice anything that the Bible does not instruct them to do. 

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  • Jews don’t believe that Jesus actually resurrected and they do not recognize Him as the Messiah either. They don’t believe that He is the one that God had promised to send to liberate mankind from the bondage of sin. On the day when the Jews were celebrating the Festival of Dedication in Jerusalem, the Jews confronted Jesus claiming that He was deceiving the world by telling them that He was the Messiah. John 10:22-24 reads, “Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around Him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” The Jews sought to find fault in Jesus by asking Him to prove to them that He really was the Messiah. Jesus told them that He was the Messiah even though they did not believe. They knew Jesus as a son of a mere carpenter and didn’t like it when He told people that He was the one God had promised to send. So, they accused Him of blasphemy and claimed that He dishonored God by saying that God had sent Him. They did not want Him to mention that God was His Father since they knew that the carpenter was His father. John 10:31-33 reads, “Again His Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Even at the death of Jesus, the Jews could not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. John 19:19-21 reads, “Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” As you can see, the Jews did not see Jesus as their Messiah but as a mere human claiming to be the Messiah. This is why they cannot celebrate His resurrection. They believe that if they celebrate the Easter holiday, they would be supporting blasphemy. 

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  • Jews claim that the Early Church and the apostles did not celebrate Easter. According to them, if Easter was a special holiday that had to be celebrated to commemorate any special occurrence, then the Apostles should have set the pace. They claim that if Jesus resurrected on the third day after His death, His disciples would have been the first people to celebrate. As a result, the Scriptures would have Bible passages or illustrations that tell us how the Apostles and the Early church marked this day. The fact that they did not celebrate causes suspicion of Jesus being resurrected on the third day after His death.    
Do Jews celebrate Easter?
Jews meeting for prayer.
  • There are specific dates that mark the beginning and the end of the Festivals of the Lord. For instance, the dates for the Passover festival are known. Leviticus 23:5-8 reads, “The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month, the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.” There can never be any confusion on the dates of the Passover and unleavened bread festivals since the dates are known and are constant. However, the Easter holiday is celebrated on a different date every year. The dates of the holiday vary from year to year and may not be the same in all parts of the world. This makes the Jews doubt and disapprove of it as a religious festival that is ordained by God.

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In Conclusion, the Easter holiday is a very important holiday in Christianity and Christians uphold it with respect, reverence, and awe. Easter is a period of transformation, restoration, and new life in Jesus. However, Jews hold a very different perspective about Easter even though not all Jews are against it. Messianic Jews celebrate the Easter holiday and view it the same way as Christians view it.

Do Jews celebrate Easter?
A Jewish couple.

Messianic Jews are Jews who converted to Christianity but they still uphold some of the Jewish traditions and beliefs. They believe that the celebration of the Easter holiday is necessary for their salvation. Messianic Jews celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Yeshua. They rely on the instructions of Romans 10:9 to support their views.

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