When it comes to religious festivals in April, we often think about Easter in the UK, since Christianity has been the dominant religion here for many years. However, in other places of the world, there are many different religious festivals that occur at this time of year which you can share with your children to increase their knowledge of diversity and culture. So let’s take a trip around the globe to see what else is happening during the month of April.

Mahavir Jayanti - April 4th

This holiday celebrates the birthday of Lord Mahavira, the last Tirthankara, or great teacher of one of the world’s oldest religions - Jainism. This year the celebration falls on April 4th but can also be celebrated in March depending on the lunar calendar. Jainism is an Indian religion that traces its spiritual ideas and history through the lives of 24 supreme preachers of Dharma. Tradition states that the first preacher lived millions of years ago and the 24th preacher was born in 599 BCE.

Dharma is a concept found in other Indian religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism and is usually translated as meaning “righteousness”, “merit” or “religious and moral duties” that govern an individual’s conduct and behaviour. Jainism also promotes the idea of karma and reincarnation. The spiritual goal of Jainism is to become liberated from the endless cycle of rebirth and to achieve an all-knowing state called ‘moksha’.
To celebrate the day, followers go to the temple to hear readings from the Jain scriptures and learn about the life of Mahavira. People then return home from their spiritual worship to celebrate with a feast.

Passover - April 5th - 13th

The Jewish Passover holiday lasts for 7 days and is one of the Jewish religion’s most sacred and widely observed holidays as it commemorates the Israelites being freed from slavery in ancient Egypt under the leadership of Moses. In 2023, it runs from April 5th to April 13th. In Hebrew, it is called Pesach. During the week, Jews observe the week-long festival with a number of important rituals, including a traditional Passover meal known as a seder, the removal of leavened products from their home, and the substitution of bread with matzo (a cracker-like food, which reminds Jews that when their ancestors left Egypt, they had no time to allow their bread to rise). They also retell the story of the Jewish exodus and the 10 plagues of Egypt which, according to the Old Testament, God brought to Egypt after the Pharoah refused to release the Jewish people from slavery. The last plague was a visit from the Angel of Death who took the first born son of each household in Egypt. Moses told the Jews to place a lamb’s blood cross on the door so that the Angel of Death would ‘pass over’ Jewish households, sparing their first borns.

Easter weekend – 7th – 10th April

Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity as it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after being crucified on Good Friday. Many Christian communities around the world will hold Good Friday parades in which people follow a representative coffin or effigy of Christ through the streets as a funeral procession. Many Christians will go to church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection and have a feast and special meals. Easter Sunday is the major celebration when people give chocolate eggs representing rebirth and renewal. It commemorates the time when Mary Magdalene found Jesus’s empty tomb with the large sealing stone rolled away and was told by an angel that Jesus had been resurrected to life. At Easter, children often go on Easter egg hunts, looking for eggs that have been hidden around the house and garden by the mischievous Easter Bunny.

Feast of the Divine Mercy - April 16th

The Feast of Divine Mercy is a mainly Catholic feast, held on the Sunday after Easter Sunday, ending the Octave (8 days) including Easter Sunday and the Sunday following it. According to Catholics, Jesus appeared several times to a Polish nun called Saint Faustina Kowalska who was canonised by Pope Jonh Paul II in 2000. According to Faustina, Jesus asked her directly to set up the feast day to celebrate God’s mercy, and was given special prayers so that all people could turn to God and find refuge and solace in his Divine Mercy. There are three main components to the devotion of Divine Mercy which are:

  • Asking for and obtaining the mercy of God
  • Trusting in Christ’s mercy, and
  • Showing mercy to others

Catholics are also reminded that Jesus promised that if they sincerely ask forgiveness for their sins and attend confession close to Divine Mercy Sunday, then all their sins will be forgiven. According to her diary, Sister Faustina was also asked by Jesus to paint and image of Divine Mercy and did so. In the image, Jesus is portrayed with one hand outstretched blessing the world, while his other hand rests on the side wounded by the soldier’s spear. From the wound in his side stream blood and water. Below the image are the words, “Jesus I Trust in You.”

Eid al-Fitr - April 21st - 22nd

This holiday marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan and is a celebration to mark the end of a month of fasting during daylight hours that adults following the Muslim faith participate in. People fast to strengthen their spiritual relationship with Allah (God), and to commemorate the revelation of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
Eid-al-Fitr celebrates the month’s spiritual successes and a big meal is the usual primary celebration shared by family and friends. People also visit their mosques and celebrate within local communities. This year, Eid-al-Fitr is from April 21st to April 22nd.

Earth Day – April 21st

Although not strictly attributed to any particular religion, there are many people around the world who participate in this annual celebration of the planet and our relationship with it. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 in America to raise awareness of environmental ignorance and demand a new way forward. Today it is celebrated in more than 190 countries, and people around the globe get involved in litter picks, and other environmental events.

Whichever festival you are celebrating this April, we’d love to know about them, so send us your pictures and stories to us at hello@parenta.com.

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