The most popular film that aired over Easter weekend was a movie about Passover, according to the Catholic League. In a recent article titled “Ten Commandments Scores”, they noted that ABC's airing of “The Ten Commandments” (1956) received a larger audience share than any other Easter-themed program. The Travel Channel had some segment on biblical mysteries that fared poorly, including a section asking whether the Shroud of Turin was really the face of renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. The Science Channel focused on the non-canonical “Gospel of Mary”, speculating that it was “suppressed” by the early male-dominated Church because it dealt with a woman.
So ironically, the most popular television segment over Easter weekend was one that dealt with a Jewish holy day, rather than a Christian one. This actually makes sense when you think about it. The stories of the Old Testament are shared by Christians, and the Jewish celebration of Passover is one of the most important and pivotal events throughout the Bible. It is linked to Easter every year by the fact that The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. As a result, these separate holy days usually occur on a same week.
The overlap was very apparent this year, as Catholics were trying to fast on Friday and stick to lenten rules, while Jews were trying to fast on Friday and stick to Kosher rules. One of my Jewish friends on Facebook noted that she couldn't wait for Monday to roll around so the fast would be over and she could eat a pizza, and I felt exactly the same way, although Catholic lent ended on Holy Saturday. In both cases, the fasting rules took away some of the rich fatty foods that we tend to take for granted in life.
One element that bothers me, however, is that while Christians are usually very willing and open to watch faith-based movies about Jewish holidays – such as The Ten Commandments, King David, Solomon and Sheba, etc., the reverse is often not true for Jews when it comes to faith-based movies intended for Christians – such as The Passion of the Christ, Ben-Hur, The Robe, etc. Many Jews seem to fear that Christians will try to convert them, or that they won't be able to identify with the message of the story since it is targeted to Christians. I think this is unfortunate, since we can always learn to appreciate our own faith more, when we learn about the cultural traditions and beliefs of other faiths. A greater understanding of Jewish Holidays can help Catholics fully understand the life of Jesus more, and Jews may better understand what their ancient ancestors went through by taking a look at Judaism during the time of Jesus.
I am totally against attempts to make religious holidays into something they're not, such as the media attempting to repackage Hanukkah into a sort of “Jewish Christmas” simply because it falls around the same time of the year on the calender, even though the two holidays have nothing in common and Hanukkah has its own unique traditions. On the other hand, there are some religious holidays and traditions that are deliberately linked to those of another faith. Easter and Passover and two sides of the same coin. Celebrate Easter, and learn about Passover, or celebrate Passover, and learn about Easter. Either way, you'll be enriching your life by doing so.