To Jewish Rotarians around the world -  Thinking of our Rotarian friends celebrating Passover this week.  The name “Passover” is derived from the Hebrew word Pesach which is based on the root “pass over” and refers to the fact that God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt during the last of the ten plagues. Passover is also widely referred to as Chag he-Aviv (the "Spring Festival"), Chag ha-Matzoth (the "Festival of Matzahs"), and Zeman Herutenu (the "Time of Our Freedom").  Probably the most significant observance involves the removal of chametz (leavened bread) from homes and property. Chametz includes anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that has not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after coming into contact with water (Ashkenazic Jews also consider rice, corn, peanuts, and legumes as chametz). The removal of chametz commemorates the fact that the Jews left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing the “puffiness” (arrogance, pride) from our souls.
To Christian Rotarians around the world - Happy Easter!  Easter Sunday is an important day in the Christian church calendar because it celebrates Jesus Christ's resurrection, according to Christian belief.  In Christian times, the spring began to be associated with Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. The crucifixion is remembered on Good Friday and the resurrection is remembered on Easter Sunday.  Many Christians worldwide celebrate Easter with special church services, music, candlelight, flowers and the ringing of church bells. Easter processions are held in some countries such as the Philippines and Spain. Many Christians view Easter as the greatest feast of the Church year.

Many towns and villages in Italy have sacred dramas about the episodes of the Easter story – these are held in the piazzas on Easter Day. Pastries called corona di nove are baked in the form of a crown. Other traditional foods include capretto (lamb) and agnello (kid/goat). Easter in Poland is celebrated with family meals that include ham, sausages, salads, babka (a Polish cake) and mazurka, or sweet cakes filled with nuts, fruit and honey.

Although Easter maintains great religious significance, many children in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, think of it as a time to get new spring clothes, to decorate eggs and to participate in Easter egg hunts where eggs are hidden by the Easter Bunny. Some children receive Easter baskets full of candy, snacks, and presents around this time of the year.