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Lent, Ramadan, Passover Intersect

By Joan Milligan

From April 5 to April 9, the religious observances of Lent, Ramadan and Passover will overlap. As different as these occasions are, the three major religions that celebrate them do have a common point of reference. Recorded in the Torah, the Bible and the Quran are stories of God speaking to Abraham. Because Jews, Christians and Muslims all refer to this God as “the God of Abraham,” they are known collectively as the Abrahamic faiths. 

This is a rare convergence that happens approximately once every 33 years. The dates are determined by movements of the moon and the use of different calendars in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Observers of these three events demonstrate the diversity of the University of Dayton community. From the beginning, Marianists have sought to bring disparate groups together. Although these religious faiths will be commemorating different miracles during the overlapping five days, there will be some commonality in 2023 due to the alignment of heavenly bodies.

Lent (Christian observance) 

  • It began Feb. 22.
  • The beginning is determined by counting back from Easter. It is observed on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox.
  • Three days before Easter is Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s last supper with the apostles. Count back six weeks from that date, and you arrive at Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
  • It ends with the Paschal Triduum — the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Easter is April 9.

Ramadan (Muslim observance)

  • It’s expected to begin March 22.
  • It begins with the first sighting of the “youngest moon,” or crescent moon, in Mecca at the end of the Islamic month of Shaban. It ends after 30 days with Eid al-Fitr, a two- to three-day celebration. In 2023, Eid al-Fitr begins April 22 or 23.
  • It commemorates the prophet Muhammad's first revelation of the holy Quran.

Passover (Jewish observance)

  • April 5-13.
  • It begins on the 15th of the month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar. It lasts seven days (eight days for those living outside of Israel and Reform Jews).
  • God punished the Egyptians for enslaving the Hebrews by bringing on 10 plagues. The final plague was the taking of the firstborn of every household, but the children of the Hebrews were spared, or “passed over” by the angel of death. The observance honors this blessing and being freed from bondage.

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— Joan Milligan is the special collections cataloger for the University Libraries and a member of the libraries’ diversity and inclusion team.

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