Rooted in pagan practices of sun worship and in Jewish holiday of Passover, Easter adopted a range of Semitic myths to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Elon Gilad is an editor and writer at Haaretz.
The original use of eggs on both holidays is obscure, but use eggs they both do. Why?
The holiday we know today began as two distinct ones, one for nomadic herders and one for farmers. Neither involved Egypt.
How ‘the Sylvester’ on December 31 became one of the favorite holidays for some Israelis and why so many other Israelis hate it with a passion
If at first the rabbis were appalled by the notion of Jews squandering time better spent on Torah study, over the centuries playing chess would become encouraged – as long as they didn’t gamble on Shabbat
The ancient Israelites, led by Judas Maccabeus, did vanquish the oppressor Antiochus - but Greek rule would only be shaken off 20 years later under Judas' younger brother. A must-read before the holiday begins
Nowhere does the Torah mention a redeemer known as the Messiah who will appear at the end of history. The origin of this belief stems from somewhere else entirely
And how Judaism reconciled the conundrum of why the righteous may suffer and the wicked thrive over the ages
Originating in harvest festivals, Sukkot became centered in Jerusalem. That was not to last.
It began as a Canaanite festival, superseded Passover among Bible-era Jews and won a disloyal king a royal pelting with etrogim
It is the holiest day in Judaism, yet its intent has markedly changed and its practice today is a far cry from the rites of ancient times
Much of today's traditions originated with Babylonian worship, and you have to read this to believe how a calf's head morphed into gefilte fish.
What are the zodiac and other images doing in those bastions of monotheism? The answer lies in a Judaism we don’t know anymore
Dying for the Golden Calf? Celebrating tribal intermarriage? Or, simply, marking the summer equinox? Whatever its origin, latter-day Zionists liked this holiday.
The Prophet Zechariah, for one, seems to think we should be celebrating the construction of the Second Temple, not mourning the loss of the first. But that was then.
Conquerors came and went, but cities all over Israel and the region, not least Jericho and Jerusalem, retained identification with ancient deities
According to the Bible, Shavuot isn’t exactly a real holiday. What changed?
Once upon a time this day marked the end of a terrible plague. Then revisionism got involved.
Scientific observation gradually prevailed over the belief that outbreaks stemmed from God’s wrath, but the dilemma over succoring the sick remains
Modern tradition assumes Hanukkah candles were born with the holiday but Josephus hadn’t heard of them: It seems we borrowed them from the pagan Saturnalia
The Bible ties building booths on Sukkot to Exodus, but another explanation may lie in ancient Ugaritic tablets about a Canaanite supplication to Baal.
The Roman siege of Masada ended in mass suicide by the trapped Jewish rebels. But absent archaeological evidence, it all boils down to the question of whether you think Josephus aspired to accuracy
The canonization of the Hebrew Bible into its final 24 books was a process that lasted centuries, and was only completed well after the time of Josephus
An ancient Hebrew term signifying utter destruction now refers to the greatest modern tragedy to befall the Jewish people
Once May 1 was one of Israel's most popular holidays, often bringing Arabs and Jews together in solidarity. Why is it barely observed by anybody but a handful of teenagers any more?
Different people wrote different portions at different times, for instance - the ancient 'Four Questions' changed when Jews eschewed sacrifice.
How often should a camel-driver have sex? What about a sailor? The bible is rife with confusing references and the rabbis set out to regulate intercourse, not that they agreed on the details
What is its origin? When did it begin? Why did many Jews scorn it – and is the underlying tale of love, murder and betrayal true?
Something borrowed, something Lent? The custom seems to have arisen in 13th century Italy, as festivities and masquerading escalated towards Shrove Tuesday
A lecture in Paris 200 years ago, based on false premises, fueled a bitter war against hashish – whose impact is still felt today