The last day of Passover and a time to begin again

Above (literally “above”): I took this picture of the full moon over San Diego on the first night of the Passover, the night before the first day, during my family’s Passover seder.

The Passover is over. Yesterday was the last day. For the Jews living in Israel, there are seven days of Passover. For Jews living in the Diaspora, there are eight. Yesterday was the last day.

The Passover, Easter, and the Garden of Adonis… All of these rituals have their roots in an ancient (ancient before the time of the written word) cult of death, rebirth, and renewal. Doing some sleuthing this morning, I found this wonderful passage in The Golden Bough (33):

    At the approach of Easter, Sicilian women sow wheat, lentils, and canaryseed in plates, which they keep in the dark and water every two days. The plants soon shoot up; the stalks are tied together with red ribbons, and the plates containing them are placed on the sepulchres which, with the effigies of the dead Christ, are made up in Catholic and Greek churches on Good Friday, just as the gardens of Adonis were placed on the grave of the dead Adonis. The practice is not confined to Sicily, for it is observed also at Cosenza in Calabria, and perhaps in other places. The whole custom—sepulchres as well as plates of sprouting grain—may be nothing but a continuation, under a different name, of the worship of Adonis.

Indeed, the Passover and Easter “may be nothing but a continuation, under a different name, of the worship of Adonis.”

One of the interesting traces of this cult in the Passover is the “burning of the bread” in the Jewish tradition — the banishment of yeast from the home and the dinner table. Once the Passover is over, yeast is allowed again.

Tracie P and I have spent a lot of time thinking about yeast and how it relates to wine — natural yeast, native yeast, ambient yeast, cultured yeast, selected yeast, “killer” yeast — over the last year. One of the things that struck me about the Passover this year (something I’d never thought about before) is how the Passover ritual requires that we remove all yeast from our lives while requiring us to talk and think about yeast at the same time.

And so it is a time to begin again and watch the yeast do its work. In the words of one of my Italian colleagues, ricominciamo…

You just gotta love Italian T.V., right? And man, you gotta love a name like Pappalardo, literally lard soup. Leavened bread, anyone?

3 thoughts on “The last day of Passover and a time to begin again

  1. both of my grandmothers observed the practice that Graves described, having come from Sicily and Calabria (prov. Cosenza). Curiously, both of those areas that they came from had a strong Albanian influence, hence perhaps a closer attachment to the pagan, the essence of all that sprang into what later became organized religion. On a side note, this year at Vinitaly there were a few more Albanian wine producers there and I also saw little arrangements on the tables tied up with red ribbons, curious, eh?

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