Prayer For Holiday Stress

5 Easy Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

Prayer For Holiday Stress

Have you ever noticed how challenging it is to spiritually prepare for Christmas? The weeks leading up to Christmas – the Advent season – are intended to be a time of preparation for Christmas, yet our seasonal to-do lists can often get in our way.

Checking off all of the items on that list in time for December 25th on top of all of your everyday normal duties can seem a superhuman task.

The stress of navigating the crowds at the store, decorating, keeping the family drama to a minimum, and attending holiday parties can make it difficult to really enjoy what the Advent season is all about.

Every year, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducts research into one particular area of stress. One year, their research focused on the stress that Americans experience during the holiday season.

Their findings showed that, while positive emotions (love, happiness, and high spirits) were associated with the holidays, both men and women reported experiencing increased stress during this time.

The primary sources of stress that the study identified were time, money, and commercialism or hype surrounding the holidays. People worry about the increase in spending during the holidays and finding the time to get everything done. Work stress is also a factor during the holidays.

The research revealed that people become stressed about participating in holiday celebrations at work and balancing work with holiday celebrations. With findings these, keeping the spiritual aspects of the Advent season and Christmas can seem easier said than done.

The key to keeping the spirit of the Advent season at the center of your Christmas preparations is to recognize potential sources of stress and minimize their effect as much as possible.

Taking a preventive approach to warding off stress will allow you to immerse yourself in the wonderful traditions of the Advent season.

Here are five ways to manage stress during the holidays so that you can prepare for Christmas peacefully, in both a spiritual and practical sense!

1) Set Realistic Expectations

“Comparison is the thief of joy” is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt and it is helpful wisdom to keep in mind this Advent and Christmas season.

It’s easy to set unrealistic expectations when it comes putting together the “perfect” Christmas celebration especially because we are surrounding by marketing that is telling what we should aspire to in order to have the perfect holiday.

When you start to compare your Christmas lights to the massive display of your neighbor’s, suddenly the time you spent putting them up doesn’t seem such a good idea.

Or what about that DIY Advent calendar you saw on Pinterest? Does your homemade Advent calendar pale in comparison? See how comparison can rob you of your joy? Be at peace with the way you choose to prepare for and celebrate Christmas. Don’t let someone else’s professionally catered Christmas party or abundance of expensive gifts take away from the joy of Christmas.

2) Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself

During the Advent season and Christmas preparations, our healthy habits can easily fall by the wayside. For example, you might grab a quick snack from the convenience store on your way to the mall or skimp on sleep in the rush to get everything done.

The APA’s stress study found that men and women are more ly to engage in unhealthy eating habits to cope with the stress of the holidays (though, it is more common among women). It’s important not to let your self-care practices slide during the holidays.

Yes, your schedule is probably busier than at other points in the year but taking care of yourself (i.e. eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising) will help you to minimize the negative effects the stress of the holidays can have.

Remember that taking care of yourself isn’t being selfish.

3) Schedule Downtime

It can also be helpful to intentionally schedule downtime during the day to help you take a step back from the hectic pace of the holiday season. Whether that’s stopping to take in the Christmas decorations or sitting down for a hot cup of tea or coffee, it’s important to take a break from the rushed pace of the Advent season.

Remember that Advent is a season of waiting. Practicing mindfulness can also be a helpful way to reduce stress and prepare you mind to focus on the spiritual part of preparing for the holidays.

It can be as simple as taking some deep focused breaths while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or engaging all five sense to observe the world around you. (Dr. Greg Bottaro has a program to help you learn more about integrating mindfulness with Christianity if you are interested in taking a deeper approach to it.

) Practicing mindfulness is a wonderful way to slow down the hectic pace of the season, reduce stress, and be able to enjoy all the wonderful traditions of Advent before they are gone all too quickly.

4) Incorporate Spiritual Practices Daily

APA’s report on stress also found that 76% of participants reported using prayer to manage stress during the holidays which is an increase from other times of the year.

The study also found that 68% of the study’s participants reported attending religious services as a way to manage stress.

While most of us don’t turn to prayer purely as a stress reliever, it is nice to know that you can experience welcome side benefit when you make the time for prayer.

Prayer and reflection on a daily basis during the Advent season can help you keep focused and can sustain you during the hectic four weeks of Advent. Yes, it may be hard to set aside time during the day but think of it as embracing a Mary approach in a Martha world. Sign up for daily Advent reflections ( Bishop Robert Barron’s) or make a visit to your local church a few times a week.

5) Keep Everything in Perspective

And finally, remember the real purpose behind all of your Christmas preparations.

That way, when the turkey is overcooked or the pile of presents to wrap seems to be growing instead of shrinking, you’ll more easily be able to minimize any stress you might experience when you remember what’s important about the Advent and Christmas seasons. Shifting your perspective can be a game-changer when it comes to reducing stress during the holiday season.

Even though, as Christians, we have a different perspective on Christmas than the marketers and advertisers of our world have, we aren’t immune to experiencing the effects of stress that the Advent and Christmas seasons can bring. But, keeping these five strategies in mind will help you to keep Christ at the center of your preparations despite the hectic and crowded malls, miles and miles of wrapping paper, and long lines at the post office.


8 Tips To Manage Holiday Stress

Prayer For Holiday Stress

This time of the year, the words holiday and stress often go hand in hand.

Although stress is something we may have to deal with on a daily basis, this festive season comes around only once a year.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could start feeling less stressed as these special days approach?

The hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, office parties, and pre-holiday gatherings have a way of filling up our already busy schedules. We suddenly have even more we need to do—so of course we are feeling stretched to our limits!

The stress we are experiencing is a normal response to pressure. It is how we manage the stress that makes all the difference in the world between feeling anxious over our to-do list and being excited for the preparatory activities and celebrations to come.

While we might not be able to free up our schedules, we can certainly release some of the holiday stress we are feeling in a healthy, mindful way.

1. Meditate.

No matter how busy you are, spend 5 minutes first thing every morning sitting quietly with yourself, letting the thoughts in your mind come and go by focusing on the breath. This gives your mind a chance to find your heart.

Related: Why Meditate? The Minimalist Guide To Meditation

Then, when you enter into your day, you will be connected within, ready to face the tasks of the day with your mind, body, and heart in alignment. You will feel complete.

2. Practice “focused attention.”

Throughout the day, focus your attention and be in the moment. When your mind starts to wander to the past or future, bring it back to the moment—to your intention to experience the spirit of the season.

The holidays remind us to honor, be present, and celebrate who we are as individuals, as families, and as part of our communities. So remember: when your head starts spinning and your heart starts racing, gently bring your attention back to the spirit of this beautiful holiday season.

3. Be mindful.

Getting the house ready for guests might sound a chore, but when you approach it as a mindful activity, it can be just as rewarding as when your guests come through your door.

Related: 7 Mindfulness Techniques That Are Helping Me Battle My MS

As you clean, cook, decorate, and make other preparations, fight off holiday stress by focusing on the selfless generosity of your actions and the wonderful opportunity you have to care for your home, yourself, and those you love.

4. Express gratitude.

If you get overwhelmed by the thought of finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, remember that your presence is much more valuable than the presents you give.

Create a thoughtful list of those you purchase gifts for, and jot down a few notes about how each person on your list has touched your life in a positive way.

Then, along with whatever gift you give, include a note expressing your gratitude for his or her special place in your heart.

5. Find the humor.

Shakespeare said all the world’s a stage, so keep this in mind as you get in full swing with the hustle and bustle of the season.

Seek out opportunities to be entertained by your fellow players on whatever stage you are on: whether in the grocery store, in long lines at the mall, following services, at the dinner table, or at the office party.

Seize opportunities to laugh with others and imbue your experiences with a delightful sense of levity. Really lighten up!

Related: 24 Things That Will Make You Laugh (Even If You’re In A Bad Mood)

6. Look for the middle ground.

When some families get together, even for joyful occasions, disagreements have a tendency to erupt. Anticipating unrest can certainly be a big producer of holiday stress!

If this describes your family, set the intention to remain neutral at the family gathering and keep your “buttons” in the “off” position. While this might feel a tall order, know that a daily meditation practice can help you accomplish this.

7. Focus on abundance.

Especially around holiday time, it might feel you are squeezing the very last cent your budget.

Aside from taking actual steps to balance your budget, worrying about your finances will not bring you into an easy, joyful mood, nor  will it help your finances. Worry never helps!

When you find yourself stressing over your expenses, refocus your attention instead on what is abundant in your life, such as the love of family and friends, the comforts of home, enough food to eat, and whatever else makes your life possible.

Related: 5 Fool-Proof Methods To Find Inner Peace

8. Let go of expectations.

We often think that if we do and prepare everything just so, the celebratory gatherings will go according to our expectations.

But let’s revisit Shakespeare here for a moment. He said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

And how right he is! If anything goes wrong when our expectations are high, we can be negatively affected.

The lesson here is to approach the upcoming days without expectations. While you may still prefer things go your way, this slight change in vocabulary can be the difference between a humorous chuckle and tears.

The Takeaway

Do you detect a theme in all eight of these tips for managing holiday stress? It is all about changing your perspective.

The stress is not going to go away, but you do not have to fall under its pressure.

You can look at the days ahead as beautiful opportunities to practice mindfulness, focused attention, gratitude, joy, balance, and letting go. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?


Author Barb Schmidt is founder of Peaceful Mind Peaceful World, a community outreach program through Florida Atlantic University (FAU) designed to promote dialogue in the greater community on the topic of inner peace.

Barb is also the founder of Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life, a non-profit organization through which she teaches The Practice, a three-part guide to practical spirituality in the modern world and her tool for spreading her belief that “outer peace begins with inner peace.”

Photo by martinak15 christmas, fall, featured, holiday stress, thanksgiving, winter


The Seven Ways to Holiday Stress Proof Your Marriage

Prayer For Holiday Stress

Donthaveyourheadphones or a private place to listen right now? Read the script here:

#1 Sleep, or else.

(0:00) Number one, get some sleep! (Because no one s being around a Grinch.) No, but seriously, think about what you’re when you don’t get any sleep. You are more emotional. You get angry easier.

You eat way more food, which we’ll get to in a bit. But, everything gets off-kilter when you don’t sleep. I could go on for an hour about how much sleep matters, but I’d rather you use that time to sleep. So, just trust me.

Number one, get some sleep.

#2 It’s cold, dark, and cozy..but Stay Active!

(0:35) Number two, stay active. During the holidays, it’s cold outside. There’s so much stuff to do. It’s dark all the time. There are all these excuses of why you don’t want to stay active, why you’d rather stay in bed, cuddle on the couch by the fire, and drink hot chocolate. But, it’s not going to help you manage your stress during the holiday season.

Yes, there’s time to relax, spend with family, and cuddle up by the fire with a good book and some hot chocolate. But, you also need to get this “energy” you. Stay active. Go for a walk. Join a gym. Go to some yoga classes. Do crossfit. I don’t care what you do. But, do something to stay active.

#3 Mindful Eating: Get Your Nutrients

(1:23) Number three, eat right. I know what you’re thinking…“How am I supposed to eat right during the holidays when there’s my mom’s favorite cake, and my cousin’s famous whatever-it-might-be-chocolate-covered-sausage-balls..?!!”

I don’t know what it might be for you. But, here’s what you need to know. If you just focus on eating your greens, eating your protein, getting a good salad, and getting some good vegetables in during the meal, then you can reward yourself with a dessert at the end. You don’t have to eat a dessert every day.

You don’t have to eat the heavy casseroles every day. But, focus on getting good nutrients in. Focus on not eating when you’re bored or just because it’s there, but only when you’re hungry. And, you’ll find that you can actually get through the holidays without gaining some weight. I’m not asking you to start a new diet.

I’m just saying be mindful of what you’re eating.

#4 Think About What You’re Thinking About

(2:24) Number four, think about what you’re thinking about. Here’s what that means. Especially during the holiday season, we’re bombarded with messages from society, Hollywood, and social media saying that what we have isn’t enough. We need to get the brand new TV, the brand new Apple product, the brand new whatever-it-might-be.

Or, we’re seeing all of these pictures of our friends who are having these amazing holiday get togethers and how happy they are with their husbands and their wives, and we can feel we are “less-than.”

, our marriages aren’t good enough. our stuff isn’t good enough. our kids are little punks, and they’re not good enough. Deep breaths. Think about what you’re thinking about.

If you’re constantly in that negative state of emotion, thinking about the negative, or thinking about how what you have isn’t enough, it’s going to translate into how you act. As a man thinks in his heart, so he is, (is the way that the saying goes).

So, make sure that what you’re thinking about is positive, is exciting, or happy. Yes, we have to deal with negative things too, but overall we can choose to be optimistic and to have a positive mindset.

#5 Treat Others as You Would to be Treated

(3:42) Number five, give grace. I don’t know about you, butI tend to judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions. Here’s what I mean by that.

I might fully intend to take my trash outside to the trash can by the road on my way to work…but, I get in a rush. I don’t have time. I have to get out the door quickly, because I’m late for a meeting, and I’m able to give myself grace. Because I said, “You know? I wanted to.

I intended to. But, I just didn’t get to. I’ll do it later.”

But, if my husband were to do the same thing, if he were to run out the door because he was late, but he didn’t do the trash…it’s easier for me to look at that and say, “I can’t believe he didn’t do that.” I’m judging him by his actions. But, I would’ve judged me by my intentions.

When things that happen, what I want you to focus on is to try and see it from the other person’s point of view. It’s not always going to be the trash.

Maybe it has to do with finances, parenting, kids, a work party, or whatever it might be. Be gracious. Don’t just start accusing them for not doing something, or whatever it might be. Be gracious in your response.

Be gracious in your perception of the people around you.

Choose to believe that they’re good people and that they want to do good things.

Choose to have that mindset, and watch your mouth. It’s very easy when we’re angry to just start attacking people. It’s easy in that situation- when my husband comes home from work after not taking the trash out for me to say, ”Do you expect me to do everything around here? All you had to do was take the trash out. Seriously, it’s not that hard.” I could’ve said that.

But, is that going to lead us towards having a good evening, a productive conversation? Is it going to make our relationship better?

The answer is: no. I can have that same conversation in a completely different light where I say, “Hey babe. Let’s work on being a team. Let’s work on doing things together. What’s a better way that we can do that?” That’s a better way to have that conversation.

#6 Put Your Family at the Top of the List

(6:00) Number six, prioritize family time. During the holidays, you are going to be stretched and pulled and pushed 1,801 different ways. There’s work. There’s school parties. There’s deadlines.

There’s finance stuff going on. There’s your own things that you’re trying to get done: Christmas shopping, cooking, and cleaning; all of it can be so overwhelming.

And, it can be so easy to push your family to the bottom of the list.

“Oh, I’ll spend time and watch Christmas movies with my kids when I get everything else done.” I want to encourage you to flip that upside down.What if everything else became second, and time with your family became first?

“I’m going to spend time with my family.And, I’ll figure out a way to get everything else done when I’m done with that.” Prioritize your family.

#7 An Example of Giving- not “Getting”

(6:56) And, finally, number seven, focus on giving rather than “getting.” A few years ago my family (my immediate family, my parents, my husband, all of us) said, “We really don’t need anything else. Yeah. There’s fun stuff that comes out. But, if there’s anything we need, I mean, honestly we could get it. We don’t have to get presents for Christmas.”

So instead, we decided that we would take that same energy and money that we would’ve used to buy all these presents, run around town, this/that or the other, and give it to the people who need it instead. And, not just around the holidays, but spending time throughout the year to do that.

Then, on Christmas Day we celebrate that. We celebrate the things that we’ve been able to give back, the missions we’ve been able to support.

I can’t tell you how amazing and NOT at ALL stressful it is when your focus for the season is: “How much can I give?”  And, not worried about what I’m going to get, especially when I’m thinking about my relationship, my marriage.

When I change that focus to “What’s my husband gonna get me? What is my wife gonna get me? Is it gonna be enough? Are they gonna get me the right thing?” Which, can lead to a lot of other frustrations when that doesn’t go well..

But, when I shift my focus to, “What can I give?” Everything is put into perspective, and it makes the holiday season so much better.

So, that’s it, the seven tips to holiday stress proof your marriage. Do them.

I can’t tell you how important it is to protect your marriage, to protect your family during the holiday season, because the stress is going to come on strong.

Follow our channel [on ] for more tips for your marriage and give us a call at Marriage Helper at (866) 903-0990. Whatever we can do for your marriage, we’re here for you. Happy Holidays! See you soon.

For more help, get this free download: 7 Keys To Fixing Your Marriage During The Holidays


Holiday Stress: Causes, Management, and More

Prayer For Holiday Stress

Do your shoulders instantly tense up with the thought of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Does your heart skip a beat when you think about spending the entire day with your extended family during the most wonderful time of the year? Does the thought of a revolving balance on your credit card from overspending keep you up at night?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Money and family responsibilities are some of the top sources of stress in America.

Before the stress of the holidays sneaks up on you, read on to learn how to enjoy your most stress-free holiday season yet.

Holiday stress can affect anyone, even children. There are a lot of expectations around the holidays. Many people associate the holidays with social gatherings, rituals, and happy memories. These expectations can lead to stress.

It can quickly become overwhelming to make every meal award-worthy and every wrapped gift look perfect.

Finding the time to attend every party, or feeling you haven’t been invited to enough parties can cause stress.

When you add the financial burden, travel, and visiting family members, stress can start to pile up. There’s also a desire to cram in every tradition and event to make sure each day is memorable.

Finally, the holidays can also be a difficult time of the year for people who have lost friends and family members. The memory of their loss can add to other sources of stress and hurt even more.

There are many simple ways to deal with holiday stress, but first you need to understand your stress triggers. Do certain situations cause you to feel stressed? When you feel stressed, pause and think about what’s causing it. The activity you’re doing at the time may not be the cause of your stress. Once you understand what triggers your stress, use these six simple tips to de-stress.

1. Plan Ahead

Finding time for all of your holiday activities can be tricky. On top of your holiday commitments, you may also have to deal with increased traffic, especially around malls. Or you may feel extra pressure to get ahead of work so that you can take time off to travel.

Creating an action plan can help to relieve stress. Write down all of the things you need to do so that you can prioritize the things that are most important. You will also be less ly to forget something if you have a list.

2. Put Yourself First

With such a huge focus during the holidays on giving, it can be easy to forget to give back to yourself. Taking care of yourself will improve your mood and make it easier for you to take care of others.

Set aside some time to do things you enjoy. Find time to exercise, plan a dinner out, or just get a few minutes of fresh air. And don’t forget the importance of a regular good night’s sleep.

Read more: Exercise as stress relief »

3. Keep Your Finances in Check

If you’re worried about your spending and how it will affect you after the holidays are over, be realistic about what you can afford to spend. The sentiment behind a gift is more important than the cost.

Create a budget and stick to it. Spend only what you can afford, and if you don’t have the ability to spend anything, bake a treat or offer your talents and time to your friends and loved ones.

4. Honor Loved Ones You Have Lost

It may be difficult to celebrate the holiday season if you’ve lost someone dear to you or distance makes it difficult to spend time together.

Spend this holiday season reflecting on special memories and how you will honor the person you lost by doing something meaningful in their honor. If you’re unable to spend time with loved ones, volunteer your time to a local organization where your smiling face could change someone’s day. Their smile could most certainly warm your heart.

5. Indulge in Moderation

Indulge in foods that you may only have once a year, but don’t forget the importance of healthy eating as well.

A glass of eggnog or five sugar cookies for breakfast isn’t going to completely derail your eating plan. But it’s not a realistic way to eat every day during the holidays.

Not only will it leave you feeling ill, but also the pounds will quickly sneak up on you. Everything in moderation is key this time of year.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

It’s okay to say “no,” and the more you say it, the easier it will get. Say “yes” to the events and things that you know will bring you joy. Say “no” to obligations that you know will cause you heartache and disappointment.

If working a few extra hours of overtime will make you happy so you can treat your mom to her first new television in twenty years, do it. But if your neighbor that you’re not too fond of invites you to a holiday party, feel free to decline.

You’ll be happy that you did.

If you’ve tried the tips above and your mood hasn’t improved, speak to your doctor. Just sharing your feelings with your doctor may help you feel better. If not, your doctor can discuss prescription medications or other treatment plans that might be able to help.

When it comes to stress, it’s important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you. If a situation is too stressful, ask yourself why it’s stressful and what you can do to better manage your stress. Not only will this help you to deal with holiday stress, but it can also help you better manage stress throughout the year.

Could my holiday stress be caused by major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern?

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern can be difficult to differentiate from holiday stress. The major difference is the duration and severity of your symptoms.

Major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern must meet all of the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder, including symptoms and duration of symptoms.

The criteria for this condition are significantly different than feeling “down in the dumps” for a day or two, or having anxiety about holiday events. If you suspect that you’re having a b major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, consult your doctor immediately.
Timothy J. Legg, PMHNP-BC, GNP-BC, CARN-AP, MCHESAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.


Passover and Easter

Prayer For Holiday Stress

The frequent overlapping of Easter and Passover — of the Christian Holy Week with our eight-day celebration of Passover — merits attention. Un the yoking of Christmas and Hanukkah, Easter and Passover are festivals of equal gravity. Side by side they bring to light the deep structures of both religions.

Looking for Passover-Easter resources for interfaith families? Click here!

Scheduled to Coincide in the Spring

First, their inviolable matrix is spring. In each case, the calendar is adjusted to ensure that the holiday is celebrated early in the spring.

For the church, which believed that the resurrection took place on a Sunday, the First Council of Nicaea in 325 determined that Easter should always fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.

In consequence, Easter remained without a fixed date but proximate to the full moon, which coincided with the start of Passover on the 15th of the Hebrew month Nissan.

By the same token, the rabbis understood the verse “You go free on this day, in the month of Aviv” (Exodus 13:4) to restrict Passover to early spring — that is in a transitional month when the winter rains end and the weather turns mild. The word “Aviv” actually means fresh ears of barley.

Moreover, since the Torah had stipulated that the month in which the exodus from Egypt occurred should mark the start of a new year (Exodus 12:2), the end of the prior year was subject to periodic extension in order to keep the Jewish lunar calendar in sync with the solar year.

Thus, if the barley in the fields or the fruit on the trees had not ripened sufficiently for bringing the omer [the first barley sheaf, which was donated to the Temple] or the first fruits to the Temple, the arrival of Passover could be delayed by declaring a leap year and doubling the final month of Adar (Tosefta Sanhedrin 2:2).

In short, Easter and Passover were destined to coincide time and again.

Both Festivals Emphasize History and Hope

Second, in both festivals nature and history converge with a resounding message of hope. The renewal of nature that comes with spring amplifies the promise of redemption embedded in the historical events being commemorated. To each faith community, God’s presence manifests itself in two keys, in nature and through history.

Yet, in both, the preferred medium is history, a legacy of the biblical shift to monotheism. Judaism and Christianity rest firmly on the foundation stories recounted ritually in their respective spring festivals. In Egypt, the family of Jacob had morphed into a nation welded together by the bitter experience of oppression.

Redemption by God imbued them with the national mission to create a body politic of a nobler order.

Though their descendants failed, the body of religious literature which recorded their efforts and voiced their ideals would challenge humanity even as it would comfort them in their long exile.

To recall the exodus in dark times nurtured the yearning for a future restoration, which is why Passover ends with the reciting of a haftarah [prophetic reading] that bristles with this-worldly messianism (Isaiah 10:32-12:6).

If Passover is largely about Egypt, Easter is largely about Passover. Its historical setting is Jerusalem at Passover, the Last Supper could well have been an embryonic seder, and Jesus is fated to become the paschal lamb. Indeed, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Easter “The Christian Passover” (no. 1170) and speaks of the “Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross” (no. 57).

The good news is that the death of one has the capacity to save many. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate affirmation of life or in the words of the Byzantine liturgy:

Christ is risen from the dead!Dying, he conquered death;

To the dead, he has given life (no. 638).

Finally, because the message of both festivals is so central to the belief system of each faith community, it interlaces the liturgy year round.

In the Haggadah we read that Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah was already advanced in years before he fathomed that the exodus from Egypt should be recalled by every Jew twice daily, in the evening as well as in the morning.

That is the reason for the addition at the third paragraph of the Shema [a prayer said twice daily] in which this bedrock fact is affirmed. God’s compassion obliges us to sanctify our lives.

Correspondingly, for Catholics and many Protestants the weekly sacrament of communion, reenacting the last supper, turns God’s saving grace into a lived reality.

Passover is Communal, While Easter is Individual

Still for all their commonalities, Passover and Easter diverge fundamentally.

While both festivals are about delivery from a state of despair, be it slavery or sin, Passover heralds the birth of the Jewish people as a force for good in the comity of nations.

In contrast, Easter assures the individual Christian life eternal. Passover summons Jews collectively into the world to repair it; Easter proffers a way a world beyond repair.

Passover reflects a worldview that devalues life after death and privileges the community over the individual. Easter bespeaks a religion that reverses both sets of priorities, enabling it to comfort those who had lost faith in the gods of Rome.

Passover’s Connection to Rosh Hashanah

It is well known that Passover is not the only Jewish new year, that in fact it came to share that role with Rosh Hashanah.

Whereas our months are numbered from Nisan [when Passover falls], the years are counted from Tishrei [the month in which Rosh Hashanah falls].

The reason for that anomaly is the development of Rosh Hashanah, after the canonization of the Hebrew Bible, perhaps concomitantly with the emergence of Christianity, into a festival that addressed itself solely to the fate of the individual.

The Mishnah stresses that on Rosh Hashanah alone God has “all inhabitants of the world pass before Him, flocks of sheep” (Rosh Hashanah 1:2). On the other three pilgrimage festivals, including Passover, the world is judged by God collectively.

The expansion of the nameless first day of the seventh month, when loud blasts were to be sounded (Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29:1), into a solemn day of judgment for every single member of humanity suggests a Jewish response to a society with a heightened sense for the importance of the individual.

The result, however, is not a transformation of Judaism. Its deep structure remains intact. Rosh Hashanah joins Passover; it does not replace it. While the valence of the individual is definitely elevated, the priority of the group is not devalued. Judaism continues to be animated by a spirit of communitarianism.

wise, the dominant orientation stays this-worldly. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not about getting into heaven.

Our profusion of prayers carries aloft a modest request of God: to give us but one more year to try again, to live our life in such a manner as to make a difference. Our task is to mend the world, not flee it.

The retention of two new years, one in the spring, the other in the fall, bespeaks the remarkable effort to keep polarities in balance.

Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Pronounced: uh-DAHR, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month usually coinciding with February-March.

Pronounced: nee-SAHN, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month, usually coinciding with March-April.

Pronounced: roshe hah-SHAH-nah, also roshe ha-shah-NAH, Origin: Hebrew, the Jewish new year.

Pronounced: TISH-ray, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish month, usually coinciding with September-October.

Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.

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