Rituals involving faith, family and food—the three major religious festivals of spring 2023

Nicole Gallop Mildon, Partner in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, private client team. Neil Dryer, Partner in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, real estate, planning and construction team. Sabinah Peeroo, Legal assistant & Mauritian qualified Attorney at Law in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, property litigation team.
Multiple Authors
4 min Read
Nicole Gallop Mildon, Neil Dryer, Sabinah Peeroo

This April just gone Muslims, Christians and Jews the world over observed Ramadan/Eid, Lent/Easter, and Passover simultaneously – something that only happens about once every 30 years. To commemorate, we asked some of our observant colleagues to share what each festival means to them and their families.

Easter Sunday fell on 9 April 2023: Nicole Gallop Mildon shares her faith and traditions

How do you celebrate Easter?

After the penitential season of Lent, Easter comes as a great celebration. Particularly, I attend church through the Triduum, which is often described as a liturgy in three parts, like a play in three acts. We have Maundy Thursday with the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the washing of feet (reminders of the Eucharist and service), the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday (when the church is lifeless like Christ in the tomb) and then the fire and light of the Easter Vigil celebrating the resurrection of Christ. You pass through darkness into light.

What does this festival mean to you?

It's a summary of my faith; so much of why I am a Catholic is celebrated in this season. Although I'm not obliged to attend these services I would miss the progression from darkness into light and their unique character.

Do you have a favourite family tradition?

It's a holiday we try to spend together as a family, but it is less stressful than Christmas and more focussed on faith. We fast and abstain (so less food and no meat) on Good Friday, and then after the Easter Vigil (Saturday night before Easter Sunday) and on Easter Sunday, we enjoy nice meals together, and Easter eggs of course!

Pesach, or Passover, began on 5 April and ended on 13 April 2023 - Neil Dryer shares what this festival means to him and his family

How do you celebrate Passover? 

There are a number of special rites and rules that observant Jews will follow during Pesach that makes this festival very unique in the Jewish calendar: there is the prohibition on eating any “chametz”, which includes bread and any other grains, during the festival; the tradition of eating “matzah” (a sort of cracker-like flatbread); and holding the seder service the first two nights of the festival, which is a special gathering of friends and family where the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt is told and a number of symbolic rituals are observed.

What does this festival mean to you? 

Passover is at the heart of Judaism, and its customs and traditions are a definitive part of Jewish culture. So observing and participating in the festival is at the heart of being Jewish, as is the festival’s message of resilience and survival which is very much the story of Jewish history.

Do you have a favourite family tradition during this time?

As with most Jewish festivals Passover is an opportunity to gather with friends and family, and members of my wife’s close family who live overseas will often travel to London for the festival. Also, many aspects of the seder service are focused on children: there are certain special songs they sing at the service, and games they play such as “finding the afikomen”, and our family makes a great effort to get our kids involved in the service.

Eid al-Fitr was celebrated on Friday 21-22 April 2023 - Sabinah Peeroo shares how she celebrates Eid

How do you celebrate Eid?

Eid commemorates the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all people of the Islamic faith.

The men will gather in mosques or open spaces and attend a special morning prayer for this occasion. The prayer is followed by a sermon, in which the Imam (the person leading the prayer) asks for forgiveness, mercy, and peace for every human being across the world.

Throughout the day relatives, neighbours and friends visit each other, bringing delicious treats and gifts. During Eid, one of the most common things you’ll hear people say to one another is “Eid Mubarak" which literally means “blessed Eid” and is a way of expressing celebration.

All the close members of the family are gathered and have lunch together consisting of various dishes and desserts.

What does this festival mean to you?

Eid is a festival to show gratitude to God for the help and strength he gave us throughout the month of Ramadan to help us practise self-control.

It is a time for happiness, peace and joy, and for sharing great food with family and friends. It is really a family reunion.

However, as charity is one of the noblest deeds in Islam, celebrating Eid also entails having a thought for the people in your community who are less fortunate by making donations of clothes, food and money so that everyone can have a happy Eid.

At its core, Eid is forgiving and making peace with others who might have hurt you intentionally or non-intentionally.

Do you have a favourite family tradition, is there anything specific your family likes doing during this time?

It is a tradition to wear new colourful clothes and on the way to the mosque to eat something sweet such as dates. No Eid celebration is completed without henna; girls and ladies apply henna on their hands on the occasion.

Upon the return of the men from the mosque, breakfast is served; we eat milk vermicelli (vermicelli cooked in milk with cardamom and cinnamon) along with samosas and other delicious treats.

The traditional dish for the day is biryani accompanied by cucumber and carrot salad. The elders would sometimes hand out gift envelopes to the younger kids.

On this day the men also go to cemeteries to show respect to our close family members who are no longer with us.

Nicole Gallop Mildon is a partner in our private client team; Neil Dryer is a partner in our real estate team; Sabinah Peeroo is a paralegal and deals with administration and queries arising from interventions effected on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). 

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