”They observed to keep the law of Moses and the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord.” —Jarom 1:5b OPV, 1:11 RAV
The Sabbath is a holy day of rest for all of the Abrahamic religions. The most well know, weekly Sabbath is based on the creation story in the Torah, in the second chapter of Genesis. In Teshuvah, the Sabbath is a day of rest from a week of recreation, growth in Christ’s Grace.
The Law of Moses and Christian Sabbath
“It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute forever.” —Leviticus 16:31
The Law of Moses commands we rest on the last day of the week. This doesn’t mean we lay about doing nothing. It refers to resting from worldly labors. It is a time to focus more on the Lord. And, this was not the only Sabbath. For example, the tenth day of the seventh month was also a Sabbath when the Levites were to make an atonement for all of the people (Leviticus 16:29-34). The High Sabbaths, or Miqra are also holy days where we worship the Lord. All of these Sabbaths foreshadowed the future coming of Jesus Christ (Mosiah 8:5, 7 RAV; 13:28, 31 OPV).
The Law of Moses is still followed today by Christians. However, most of us now rest and worship on the first day of the week, as this is the day Jesus resurrected himself, leaving behind an empty tomb. The New Testament makes it clear that the early Christians went to temple or synagogues on Saturdays. Then they worshiped together the following day, breaking bread in Jesus’ name. As gentiles entered the fold, things changed and evolved over time. Today, most Christians regard Sunday as the new Sabbath, as Christ makes us His new creation by His atonement. Should we worship God on Saturday or Sunday? This has been debated for 2000 years. Perhaps the important aspect is when, but that we do.
Pesach or the Passover
Pesach, or as we typically call it in Christianity the Passover, is a Spring holiday remembering freedom of the Israelites from Egypt. It is also a celebration of Christ, as it represents our freedom from sin and death through Jesus’ sacrifice. Passover is a week long celebration from Nisan 15-21, though technically it begins the night of the fourteenth. Nisan is the ecclesiastical first month of the Jewish year. As Christians, using the Gregorian Calendar, Easter week and Passover will likely see some overlap. However, Easter is always on a Sunday, while Passover moves around based on the days of the week in which it falls.
During this time we are to fast from eating chanetz. Chanetz, Hebrew for “leavened,” is made from one of five types of grain, combined with water and left to stand raw to become leavened. Unleavened breads should be eaten during this time. Other rising agents, such as baking soda, are acceptable. According to Exodus 12:15-19 we should remove all leavened foods from our homes at this time.
The week of Passover is still a Holy Week, sometimes called “Passion Week,” for Christians. We celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on Nisan 10, the Last Supper (the evening of Nisan 14) and Good Friday on Nisan 15, and Easter Sunday, Niason 17. On Easter we should take the Sacrament of Communion. When possible, it is traditional to eat lamb. Something bitter should be on the table to represent slavery to Egypt (representing Ego) and sin. This reminds us that we are made free from through Christ.
Shavuot or Pentecost: The Feast of Weeks
Shavout, Hebrew for Weeks, is more commonly known as Pentecost to Christians, started as a Jewish Holiday celebrated on Sivan 6, typically falling somewhere between May 15 and June 14 on the Gregorian calendar. The date is tied to the Passover, falling seven weeks from the second day of Passover week. It is celebrated to denote the day God gave the Torah to man and the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22, Dueteronomy 16:10).
For Christians, this holiday adds the outpouring of the Spirit to the Church as described in the Book of Acts (Acts 2). For Latter Day Saints, March 27 is also a day of Pentecost as this is when the Lord poured His Spirit on the Saints in the Kirtland temple in Ohio. Both of these dates are times of worship and prayer, and giving in outreach to the poor and needy. Just as God gave to us the Torah, wheat, and the Holy Spirit, we too should give. Fasting to give money and food to food pantries, parting with clothing to give to those in need, and other such services should be preformed. And, these should be a sacrifice.
Rosh Hashanah or Trumpets
Rosh Hashanah, Hebrew for “head of the year,” is the celebration of the Jewish civil New Year. Rather than the first month, Trumpets occurs on the ecclesiastical year. It is a celebration of the creation of Adam and Eve. It is called “Trumpets” or in Hebrew, Yom Kippur (day of shouting or blasting) as Leviticus 23:24 calls for a trumpet blast to commemorate this day of rest.
For the Fellowship, it is a celebration of teshuvah, the path returning to God. The Gold Plates that were divinely translated through divination as the Book of Mormon were given to Joseph Smith on September 22, 1827; the day of Rosh Hashanah that year. In Mormon Kabbalah, the year of daily teshuvah begins, merging the civil New Year with the path back to God.
Yom Kippur (Sabbath of Sabbaths) Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement (Yom being Hebrew for “day,” and Kippur “to atone”), the holiest day of the year. It is a time of fasting, prayer, and worship. Tishrei 10 completes Yamim Nora’im (Hebrew for “Days of Awe”) that commences with Rosh Hashanah. Leviticus 16:29-31 states when this holiday should be observed, why (a day of atonement), and that it is a day of rest from worldly labors.
In Christianity these High Priest that made the sacrifice for the people of Israel have been replaced by the Eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ. In his infinite atonement Jesus also took the place of the sacrificial lamb. He is both the High Priest and the Lamb, fulfilling all of the need prescribed for the atonement. Being born again, we begin the path of teshuvah, having divided the light from the darkness within us.
Sukkoth or Tabernacles
On Tishrei 15 we celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This is a harvest festival, like Thanksgiving, celebrated in the United States and Canada. The major difference would be the commandment in Leviticus 23:42-43 asking us to live in “booths” to remember the Exodus from Egypt. Being a week long, Sukkoth generally falls sometime in late September or October on the Gregorian calendar.
Christian High Sabbaths
In addition to the Jewish High Sabbaths, Christians have added our own holidays based on the life of Jesus Christ and other Christian historical days of note.
Likely the most well known Christian holiday is Christmas. Literally meaning “Christ’s Mass” it is a day to worship Jesus and take communion in celebration of the birth of Jesus. We do not actually know when Jesus was born, but December 25 was chosen as it falls nine months from March 25, the date of the Feast of the Annunciation. The Christian Churches that set these days believed Jesus was conceived around Easter.
Lent is a time of fasting when Christians give something up as a sacrifice for six weeks for Christ. It begins on Ash Wednesday, and goes to Easter Sunday. It should be used as six weeks of penitence before Easter, and is a part of the yearly teshuvah cycle.
Easter is a part of the Christian Passover tradition. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It does not replace the Passover, but rather fulfills and and explains its purpose. The Passover was a way of waiting for the coming Messiah. Easter is a celebration of his coming, fulfilling the Law of Moses. And, reminds us that now we’re waiting for His Second Coming.
The First Vision
Joseph Smith Jr.’s First Vision is the beginning of the Second Coming. Christ descended to mankind in the same manor He rose in Acts 2: down from the clouds surrounded by angels (See Avahr 2:18-30). This began the process that is currently leading to the full return of Christ to finish the First Resurrection. The First Vision marks these the Last Days. Though we do not know the exact date, we celebrate this Holiday as March 26. This is based on the First Vision account that states this occurred in the “early in the spring of 1820” (LdS Pearl of Great Price Joseph Smith–History 1:5).
Holidays in Order
(Including lesser holidays)
- Gregorian New Year: (January 1) Celebration of New year’s Day on the Gregorian calendar.
- Epiphany: (January 6) The celebration of the revelation from God to mankind that Jesus, the Chrsit child, was born.
- Feast of the Presentation (February 2) Celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple for circumcision)
- Ash Wednesday: (First day of Lent) a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting and repentance (teshuvah).
- Lent: (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday) six weeks of penitence before Easter.
- Feast of the Annunciation: (March 25) Celebration of conception of Jesus, real date unknown. This date is tied to December 25, Christmas.
- The First Vision: (March 26) Joseph Smith Jr.’s First Vision is the beginning of the Second Coming, Christ descended to mankind as he rose in Acts 2, down from the clouds surrounded by angels.
- Palm Sunday (The Sunday before Easter) The celebration of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
- Maundy Thursday or Covenant Thursday: The celebration of The Last Supper, see “Passover” above.
- Good Friday: (The Friday before Easter Sunday). The celebration of Jesus’ death upon the Cross for us.
- Holy Saturday: (The Saturday before Easter Sunday) Similar to All Souls’ Day, this is a celebration of Jesus teaching the dead (1 Peter 3:18-20).
- Easter Vigil: (Dusk to dawn the night before Easter Sunday) Worship in preparation of Easter, normally centered around the Sacrament of Communion, but also a time of baptisms, re-baptisms, and confirmations.
- Easter: (The first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon on or around March 21) The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and the end of Lent.
- Easter Monday (The Monday following Easter Sunday) A holiday in the Eastern Christian Christian world.
- Formation of the Church of Christ: (April 6) After the Book of Mormon was printed, the fist Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ was formed; it is this church that all other denominations came from.
- Feast of the Ascension: (39 days after Easter) The celebration of that accession of Jesus into Heaven, as recorded in Acts 2; see “Pentecost” above.
- Pentecost: (The seventh Sunday aster Easter) Celebration of the Holy Spirit descending on the Church as recorded in Acts 2; see “Pentecost” above.
- Feast of the Assumption: (August 15) The Book of Mormon teaches that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was the representative of Heavenly Mother, the Queen of Heaven. The Feast of Assumption celebrates her life and the idea that she was taken up into heaven, transfigured rather than dying as a common mortal.
- The Visitation of the angel Moroni: (September 21) The visitation of the angel Moroni lead to Joseph Smith Jr. eventually obtaining the Gold Plates, translating the Book of Mormon and forming the original Latter Day Church of Christ. See
- Joseph Smith Jr. first sees the Gold Plates: (September 22) The day after Joseph saw Moroni, he was taken to the hill where Moroni hid the Gold Plates. This happened on Rosh Hashanah of that year. See Rosh Hashanah above.
- All Souls’ Day: (October 31) Better known as Halloween, our ancestors and all souls that triumphantly await us in Heaven.
- All Saints’ Day: (November 1), this is a day to celebrate and remember the Christian Saints. To Catholics this means those their Pope has declared Saints, to the Fellowship it is a time to celebrate all Christendom.
- Advent: (The last 4 Sundays before Christmas) The first day of the Christmas season celebrating both the birth of Jesus and His eventual Second Coming.
- Christmas: (December 25) Celebration of the birth of Jesus, see above.
- Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28) Also known as the Massacre of the Innocents, a holiday in memory of the massacre of ordered by King Herod the Great to kill all Jewish boys after the Wise Men did not return.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” -Colossians 2:16-17