Students across campus celebrated Easter, Passover and Ramadan this weekend in a rare crossover of the holidays that occurs approximately every 30 years.
Ramadan began on April 1 and continues throughout the month of April. During this holy month, Muslims commemorate the revelation of the Quran and draw closer to God through fasting and cultivating self-control, gratitude and compassion.
Muslims on campus have been celebrating this month by breaking fast in the Old World Room in the basement of Anabel Taylor Hall.
“We are getting around 100 people every night to gather together, to eat together, break bread and to pray together, so this is the time of the year when you feel the most connected not just with the other Muslims on campus, but with the larger Muslim world,” said Cornell’s Muslim Chaplain Yasin Ahmed. “So you feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself that transcends individualism.”
Sadia Hossain ’22 breaks fast in Anabel Taylor Hall most nights, and when she cannot attend, she gets halal food from the dining halls. She uses her time during Ramadan to reflect and even attended an event for this purpose at the start of the holy month.
“We spent about 15 minutes just to reflect on ourselves, depending on where you are spiritually and religiously, you didn’t need to be necessarily Muslim. I connected with my spirituality and connected to God. We all connected with each other and with Ramadan, and with Easter and Passover for those who celebrated,” Hossain said.
For Christians on campus, the Holy Week began on April 10 with Palm Sunday and concluded with Easter this past Sunday.
On Holy Thursday, Cornell Catholics led a procession down Ho Plaza from Sage Chapel to Anabel Taylor Hall in remembrance of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, according to Cornell Catholic Community President John Coffey ’23.
On Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus’s death on the cross, some members of Cornell Catholic fasted. The following Sunday was Easter, which marks Jesus’s resurrection, and Christians across campus came together in Bailey Hall to hold mass, attracting nearly 1000 students.
Isabel Hui ’24 usually celebrates Easter with her family, but they were unable to come up to Ithaca this year. Instead, she found alternative ways to celebrate on campus.
“My two darling littles in my sorority are also Catholic, so we made it our own outing because they couldn’t go home this weekend either. All three of us went to church in Bailey Hall,” Hui said.
Hui also made an Easter basket and had a celebratory dinner with friends. Coffey, through Cornell Catholic, had a brunch on Easter Sunday and held a cookie decorating event afterward.
For the Jewish community on campus, Friday marked the start of Passover, which commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Cornell Hillel held a pre-Passover tabling event on Ho Plaza to raise awareness of the holiday in the week preceding Passover. They handed out kosher macarons to those who were interested in learning more about Passover, according to Cornell Hillel Vice President of Engagement Simone Shteingart ’24.
On Friday, Cornell Hillel held a “super-Seder,” which is a ritual feast that marks the start of Passover, at Robert Purcell Community Center with over 400 students in attendance. There were tables of about 20 students that each had their own Seder theme, ranging from Birthright, spring, freshman, social justice and more traditional themes.
Mel Schwartz ’25 led one of these Seders for her friends.
“I think the people that came had a lot of fun, we had people who are really involved in Jewish life on campus, we had people that only come to big events, and it was just a good time overall,” Schwartz said.
On Saturday night, Cornell Hillel held a smaller and more traditional Seder at 104 West. Students who wanted to have their own Seder in their apartments could also receive funding from Cornell Hillel to do so, and there were around 30 Seders held around collegetown, Shteingart said.
No matter how students celebrated, this past weekend represented a time of reflection, joy and commemoration.
“I think there’s a beauty in this many students on campus being divinely inspired and conscious of the greater good at the same time. And I think it brings out a light and a levity in the community to the campus,” Ahmed said.