Tag Archives: Passover

The Light of the World

This week is perhaps the holiest week of all Christendom. The culmination of the Lental season begins this Good Friday (the celebration of Christ’s crucifixion) with a spectacular Easter Sunday (the celebration of Christ’s resurrection). Even more interestingly enough, Good Friday coincides with Earth Day this year, combining my love for the environment with my love for spiritual rituals.

To celebrate this Good Friday, the wife and I will be holding a traditional Passover Seder (or, at least, to the best of our goyim ability). However, to also commemorate Earth Day, we will be unplugging all of our unnecessary electrical appliances at sundown, the start of the Sabbath. So computers, the Wii, our television, lamps, lights, electric mixer, toaster oven and griddle will be physically unplugged. We will hold our Seder in candlelight, not only to help us appreciate the modern-day luxuries we have today, how dependent we’ve grown on them, and how to use them responsibly, but also to represent how the motif of darkness is oft repeated in the scriptures to signify the death of the Savior and the world’s rejection of God’s light. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon speak of darkness, and for us, we will plunge ourselves into a type of darkness in modernity, to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other and the Divine.

Saturday, the Sabbath, will be spent not only in the company of each other, but in the activity of unburdening our lives of the physical things which weigh us down. The Gospel of Thomas has a great parable in which the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto an old woman carrying a bag of grain, which represents the precious things of the world. As she approaches her destination, a tear develops in the bag, and the grain trickles out. When she reaches the end of her journey, her bag is empty. We will make an inventory of all of our physical possessions and decide which we should keep and which burden us unnecessarily in our journey through life. We will also clean our apartment thoroughly, which has fallen into disrepair since both of us have sold ourselves to the pursuit of mammon (for the kid! I tell myself), as if in preparation of receiving Christ Himself into our home.

Saturday, we will also work and bustle to put together our garden. Our seedlings have recently sprung into life, and we need to transfer them into the pots we’ve prepared for them. We may even take the time to meditate on our little second floor apartment porch. Or maybe we’ll just set up some chairs out there and read. The day is open to whatever we decide.

Of course, Easter Sunday, we will attend church (though Mormon meetings usually lack some of that traditional Easter…oomph) and then spend the time together with family. At sundown, we will plug in all of our electronics again, and once again artificial light will re-enter our world. Then again, maybe for our Easter dinner, we’ll just light all of our tea candles and scatter them all throughout the house, so to remind ourselves one last time who the real light of the world is.

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Trying to be a little less goyim

This year, the wife and I have decided to celebrate all of the Jewish holidays (we’re also gonna try to celebrate each Sabbath and follow the kosher laws, but more on that later), starting with Rosh Hashanah, the new year. As is for all Jewish holidays, the more merrier, and we have an open invitation standing on them. If you are in the Greater Seattle Area at any of these times and want to join in on the festivities, let me know! Or, if you’d like us to email you before each celebration, just email me at tylee85 at gmail dot com.  The schedule  for the year is as follows:

2010 Schedule

September 3rd, sundown – Shabbat:

We will be celebrating our first Sabbath evening, as the one before Rosh Hashanah is special. Because we plan on celebrating each and every Shabbat this year, as much as possible, this will also be our practice trial run. There will be food and candles and prayers and chanting.

September 8th, sundown – September 10th, sundown – Rosh Hashanah:

The new year! We will have a big dinner on the 8th, and hopefully we will be able to get our hands on a ram’s horn to blow. Also, apple slices and honey!

September 17th, sundown – Yom Kippur:

It’s a somber time, so we’ll again have dinner, but much more subdued. We will be lighting candles for those special to us who have passed on, and this is the last meal before the fasting for Yom Kippur, so there will still be lots of great food. After sundown on September 18th, we will drive in the first nail for Sukkot (not exactly sure what this will entail, but still, if you want to watch us drive a nail into something, then you can come). We will also be breaking the fast, so you are welcome to come over for that, as well.

September 22nd, sundown – September 29th – Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles:

We will be turning our little apartment deck into a sukkah! We will basically have all of our meals out on the sukkah, as well as spend lots of time out on it. It’s very small, but it connects directly to the kitchen, which is a blessing! The first day of Sukkot we will have a nice little blessing for the sukkah.

September 30th, sundown – Shimini Atzeret:

We’ll have a blessing for rain (seeing how we live in Seattle, this will most surely come true), and dinner.

December 1st, sundown – December 9th, sundown – Chanukah:

Latkes, dereidel spinning, candle lighting, and on the last day, gift exchanging. It’s gonna be fun.

2011 Schedule

January 19th, sundown – Tu Bishvat, “The New Year of Trees”:

We will definitely be doing something foliage-related. And eating (we like eating).

March 19th, sundown – March 21st, sundown – Purim:

Along with a reading of the book of Esther (maybe in play form?!) there will be food (of course). This should be a lot of fun, and the festival is supposed to all about ridiculous pageantry, so if you like ridiculous pageantry, this is the festival for you!

April 18th, sundown – April 25th, sundown – Passover:

We will try to have as traditional a seder as possible, and hopefully I will be able to conduct it in Hebrew (with translations, of course). No lambs’ blood, though. The wife is strictly against it.

April 30th, sundown – Holocaust Remembrance Day:

When I was a kid in school, whenever we learned about the Holocaust, it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears in the middle of class. Elie Wiesel’s Night traumatized me. For some reason, this is a very sensitive topic for me, and I debated long with myself on whether I should celebrate this or not. I decided I will, but I’m not quite sure what we’ll be doing yet. It will be serious, and it will be somber. But there will probably still be food.

May 21st, sundown – Lag Baomer:

I’m not really sure what this festival is about, but it involves bonfires and who doesn’t love bonfires?!

June 7th, sundown – Shavuot, or Pentacost:

Basically, Torah Day. I’m not sure if we’ll be doing the Counting of the Omer (we probably will), but we will definitely for sure commence the all night Torah study! Come over in your pajamas, bring some food, and we are gonna study the Torah all night, baby!

Actually, this holiday is on a Tuesday. So all night Torah studying is not required (unless you want to; I am).

August 8th, sundown – Tisha B’av:

A day of mourning and fasting to remember the destruction of the Jewish temple. We won’t really be holding any celebrations, but if you want to remember this day with us, you’re welcome to.

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Ash Wednesday and Lent

Thanks to a timely reminder from By Common Consent, I will be celebrating Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, tomorrow. I’ve always meant to celebrate it but always forgot when it was time to do so until half-way through Lent.

Like some Mormons, I’m jealous of other religions who have a liturgical calendar. I consider myself a very spiritual person but I’ve never been good at adhering to strict religious practices within the Mormon church. It may seem strange that a person like me wants a liturgical calendar, but there’s something about a religious structure that reminds you of various religious topics at the same time year after year that become a tradition bigger than itself, and there’s something incredible about a prolonged, shared communal experience (and I’m not talking about those horrible marathon testimony meetings). I do my best to read my scriptures and pray every day, but there’s something said about a portion of the year set aside for the same thing every time which you as a global Church consciously experience.

Maybe I’m a Law of Moses kind of guy. I like daily reminders of the gospel scattered throughout my life. And call me an elitist, but I like cultural markers that help demarcate us from the rest of the world. However, our culture is, when compared to other religions, quite silly. Disaffected Catholics still generally go to church on Easter and Christmas. Disaffected Jews may still gather together for their various feasts and fasts. What do disaffected Mormons do? As Scott B. wonders, “Wouldn’t that just be the nerdiest thing ever if a huge crowd of disaffected Mormons gathered together once a year to celebrate their cultural Mormonism by partying without coffee, tea, and alcohol while consuming ridiculous quantities of Jello and funeral potatoes. They could call it a Linger-Less-Longer.”

So I’ll be borrowing heavily from others’ liturgical calendars this year. The wife and I will probably try and celebrate Passover to the best of our ability, as well as other Jewish holidays. We might even take a stab at Ramadan this year, though we’re both technically not allowed to fast for long periods of time for medical reasons. General Conference is nice, but when it only comes twice a year, with large gaps in between lacking of any regular, yearly important dates of purely Mormon celebration (with the exception of Pioneer Day, which I don’t celebrate as it’s not really a part of my actual heritage and the wife’s hatred for anything folksy pioneer-y), sometimes you feel disconnected from the greater communal experience.

And for those who are wondering, I’m giving up eating out for Lent this year.

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