In 2022 Passover, Ramadan, and Easter all fall in April, a coincidence that happens only about every 33 years

Each year with the start of spring come ideas surrounding new life, rebirth, and growth. These associations come from nature, but in turn have developed into traditions, ceremonies, and holidays that reflect these themes. According to Pew Research, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three most-practiced religions in the United States, and each religion celebrates its own major holiday this time of year.

“It is the case that religions often traditionally acknowledge the shifting of the seasons, and we find religious traditions anchored around spring, the height of summer, and the depth of winter,” Professor and Program Coordinator of Religious Studies Michael Vines said. “The equinoxes and the solstices tend to attract religious celebrations.”

In the spring, Christianity recognizes Easter, Judaism celebrates Passover, and Islam practices Ramadan. While each religion and holiday is based in different traditions and beliefs, they all share some common themes, and are linked in some interesting ways.

Passover (April 15–23) 

Each year Passover is celebrated in the Hebrew month of Nisan, the first month in the Jewish calendar. Nisan typically falls in March or April and depending on where you are in the world the celebration lasts seven or eight days.

According to Vines, Passover is the oldest tradition of the three, and represents a renewal of Jewish identity. The story traces back to a battle fought by God in the Biblical books of Genesis and Exodus, which freed the Hebrew people from slavery under the Egyptian empire.

“All of that history stands behind the Passover, which celebrates the moment during the Egyptian battle when God claimed the firstborn of all Egyptians and the Hebrew people avoided that fate by putting the blood of a lamb on their doors so that the angel of death would pass over them,” Vines said. “When Jews celebrate Passover today, they remember in the first-person plural ‘we were slaves in Egypt, and God liberated us.’ The annual celebration of Passover is this tangible reminder that they belong to God in this special way because of the deliverance he provided for them.”

Jews celebrate this time of year by practicing certain dietary restrictions, such as refraining from consuming leavening in bread and other foods. A special family meal called a seder is traditionally held on the first night of Passover.

“At the seder, foods of symbolic significance commemorating the Hebrews’ liberation are eaten, and prayers and traditional recitations are performed,” Britannica notes. Some of these foods include karpas (celery or other raw vegetables dipped in vinegar or salt water), a shank bone, and a hard-boiled egg.

Each year the Jewish people renew their faith on Passover, and this theme of renewal is one that is shared with the closely related Christian holiday of Easter.

Easter (April 17)

The Christian celebration of Easter is celebrated around the same time as Passover each year. Ranging anytime from March 22 to April 25, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, or the first full moon after the spring equinox. The holiday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who served as a sacrifice so that the sins of Christians may be forgiven.

“The Christian story of Easter is related to Passover, but in ways that are really kind of hard to untangle. The Christian celebration of Easter is about the sacrificial death, and eventual resurrection of Jesus, making him the Messiah that provides salvation to all people,” Vines said. “In that context, Jesus’ death allows the angel of death to pass over Christians in the same way the blood on the door post does with Passover. The substitutionary death of Jesus is death on behalf of many that is celebrated on Easter and is of course preceded by the time that we’re in right now, Lent.”

Lent is a 40-day period where Christians prepare for Easter. Today this tradition most widely includes the giving up of a vice, whether that be chocolate, fast food, or social media. This individual sacrifice is designed to remind the Christian about the sacrifice that God made for them.

Rules around Lent are traditionally much stricter, however. According to Britannica, “In the early centuries, fasting rules were strict, as they still are in Eastern churches. One meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. The Eastern church also restricts the use of wine, oil, and dairy products.”

Ramadan (April 2–May 1)

The older, more traditional restrictions for Lent are much more similar to the Islamic tradition of Ramadan. Ramadan is a lunar month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims acknowledge the fourth pillar of Islam, which is to fast throughout the entire month.

“Ramadan is a lunar month in the Islamic calendar, and for that month faithful Muslims who have committed their lives and submitted their will to Allah demonstrate that by refraining from eating or participating in sexual activities from dawn to dusk,” Vines said.

Like the sacrifice of a vice during Lent, Vines said that fasting during Ramadan serves to allow a Muslim to focus their attention on the deep commitment they have made to submit every aspect of their life to the will of Allah, and to give themselves time to meditate on that commitment due to the constant reminder of it via their hunger.

“The second component of the fast has to do with the social component of Ramadan, which is to remind a Muslim what it’s like to experience hunger and not have enough food. This builds solidarity with those in the Islamic community who regularly don’t have enough to eat,” Vines said. “I tell my students there is a very strong communitarian focus in Islam that is a little different than Christianity, which can tend to be quite individualistic. It’s about the individual saving their soul from hell, but in Islam it’s about building a community of faithful people who are obedient to the will of Allah.”

While Muslims fast during the day, Ramadan also includes feasts after dusk where traditional food like kibbeh, stuffed vegetables, and more is served. It is traditional to break a day’s fast with dates, a teaching that comes from the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

While each of these holidays has different religious significance to their practitioners, they all serve as a reminder to the followers of each religion of their commitment to their faith and to the God they worship. It is a time for people of each religion to become renewed in their faith, a theme that aligned with the spring season in which each holiday takes place.

According to, “For those who identify with one of these three faith traditions, the closeness of our holy days should remind us of our connection to each other—the ways in which our stories and cultures overlap.”

By Maya JarrellApril 11, 2022