Passover vs. Easter: A Gluten-Free Showdown

Much fuss is made about how gluten-free-friendly Passover is. Grain-free foods line the grocery shelves more at this than any other time of year. Macaroons and gluten-free matzo everywhere. It’s great.

But . . . the holiday story is all about bread. Sure, there’s some stuff about plague, tyrants, blood of lambs, eldest sons, escape from persecution, miraculous divisions of seas, and so forth, but at heart the holiday comes down to unleavened bread. And while, with its dry, crumbly, not-quite breadiness, matzo certainly calls to mind gluten-free bread, it does usually contain gluten—just no yeast, or enough time for gluten to do its thing (since, in the story, there was no time to wait for bread to rise before fleeing Egypt).

In fact, according to many authorities, matzo must be made from wheat, rye, barley, spelt, or oats, the “five grains” mentioned in the Torah, all of which contain gluten, besides oats (though that’s debatable). Some authorities don’t even believe gluten-free matzoh should be allowed at the Passover Seder! Not so friendly, after all.

Passover s'mores made with matzo

Pastel-colored matzo s’mores, though remarkable, are also not entirely canonical.
Photo © Jasmin Fine | Flickr

Easter, on the other hand—that’s a real gluten-free holiday, and I’ll tell you why: Jesus is well known to have been a big bread eater. He consumed so much of the stuff he actually considered his body to be made of it! The very night before his death, he broke bread with his disciples and told them he was giving it up. I won’t speculate on what symptoms may have led him to that decision, but no matter—it was too little, too late.

As the story goes, Jesus died because a bunch of angry people nailed him to a cross (and because it was foretold), not because he ate too much wheat. Fair. But then, after three days in a tomb with no bread, he regained his energy to the point that he actually came back to life! Miracle from god, or miraculous gluten detox?

Unfortunately, the moment the stone rolled back from his tomb, Jesus proved old habits die harder than deities’ sons. His proof to his disciples that it was really him, alive again, was, in fact, “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).

the Last Supper - Jesus breaking the bread

“Don’t eat it, Jesus! The doctor said…!”
Sigh. No one ever listens to the apostles.
Photo courtesy Waiting for the Word | Flickr

Soon enough, all that bread weakened Jesus again, enough that he had to be carried up to heaven, where he planned to sit (at his father’s right hand) for eternity. That sounds like some serious fatigue!

So you see, though manufacturers may not exactly be rushing to produce egg- and bunny-shaped Easter treats on separate lines the way they’ve stepped up to the Kosher for Passover plate, the Easter story is way more sprue. And as celiac celebs go, it doesn’t get much better than Jesus.

Naturally, the entire argument falls apart if you consider that the Easter story contains a commandment to eat bread in memory, just like the Passover story, and how unlikely it is that God would have sent his only son to Earth and then saddled him with a not-yet-discovered autoimmune disease. Classic literary criticism.

By the way, for anyone wondering—based on my reduced posting of late—whether I too have died, fear not: I live, and my posts shall come again next week, provided neither the Old nor the New Testament God smites me for blaspheming first. I know what you’re thinking, so I’ll say it for you: hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

Regardless of which holiday you’re celebrating this year, I hope it’s a happy one! And if you’re celebrating neither, I’d wish you a happy spring, except that here in New York, it too seems to have died. Here’s hoping for a speedy resurrection.

happy Easter to our Christian friends, happy Passover to our Jewish friends, to our atheist friends...good luck

Thank you, Marsmettn Tallahassee of Flickr. You’re too kind.

For more blasphemy from me, read this oldie but goodie about sin. Alternatively, for more on why Passover actually is pretty cool for those with GRDs, try this article or this list of products to try, or just Google “Passover gluten-free,” because, seriously, the entire Internet has something to say about it. 

Do you stock up on Kosher for Passover gluten-free products? Will you be celebrating with friends or family this weekend? And what, in your opinion, is the best gluten-free holiday?

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15 thoughts on “Passover vs. Easter: A Gluten-Free Showdown

  1. Maria says:

    Hi Molly! Thanks for the great laugh out loud!! Wonderful funny GF “reading” of the holidays!! xoxo

  2. Vicky says:

    Thank you for making me giggle so much so that my husband wandered over to see what I was chuckling about! This is such a good post!

    Have a wonderful Easter break!

    Vicky xoxo

  3. I love this irreverent (in the very best way) and hilarious holiday post! I was just searching online for GF Easter candy for my kids. Thank goodness for Peeps an Jelly Bellies!
    -Dana

    • Molly says:

      Jelly Belly is the best! I ALMOST bought a bag of their “bunny corn” but I resisted temptation. That stuff’s expensive… 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  4. Casey says:

    Haha! Great post as always! You never fail to make me laugh at being gluten free and laughter really is the best medicine! I LOVE your blog and actually nominated you for the Liebster Award! Check out the details here and keep up the amazing work! http://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2014/04/liebster-award.html

  5. Mary Kate says:

    My favorite memory from this sometimes blended holiday was the time a friend of mine “koshered” the ham. Yes. At that dinner, I hurt from laughing, not gluten.

    I’m pretty sure Peeps are gluten-free and have nothing to do with either proper holiday.

    • Molly says:

      Hahaha! Oh noooo. That’s a little like when a friend, way back when (before I had gotten my diagnosis and gone gluten-free) served me mushroom-barley soup and claimed it was GF. No amount of care for cross-contamination could make it so!

      I think you’re right about Peeps. Thank heavens. 😉

  6. John says:

    It seems to be a popular talking point these days to speculate on how modern wheat compares to its counterparts from bygone times re: gluten content.

    On a recent grocery trip I encountered what for many years had been my favourite pre-DX brand of bread. It only caught my eye because they’d changed its packaging for the first time since DX. I picked it up and felt the sheer freshness… almost having to fight back the tears as I mourned…

    Ahem. But that’s another story.

    My real point concerns my reading of the ingredients. Whole wheat flour was number one of course, but not much farther along was listed… wheat gluten. I never really noticed this happenstance before, because who cares when you don’t need to eat GF. But it got me to thinking: even though there’s supposedly more gluten than ever in wheat these days, it’s apparently still not enough. Basically they have to harvest a whole other separate field of wheat, strip away and discard the rest of the grain, and then add that EXTRA mass of gluten to the dough… on top of the wheat itself.

    At this point I think to myself, “Now you’re just rubbing my face in it.” *Sigh*.

    • Molly says:

      Oof! Gluten on gluten! Relatedly, I’ve seen vegan restaurants that serve seitan (wheat gluten) patties of one kind or another, and state that all their sandwiches/burgers can be served on gluten-free bread. Including the seitan. Oh good. 😛

      • John says:

        Even a lot of beef patties have wheat crumbs in them to hold them together. I was in a pub/restaurant last weekend that, same as your experience, touted on its menu “gf bun available” for its burgers but had no comment on the patties or whether they’re grilled together with malt vinegar-marinated steaks, and no other mention of gf.

        I knew all this in advance so I ate at home just before arriving and enjoyed a drink of vodka while everyone else chowed down.

        Even if you could trust them to get it right, you have to ask a million questions to convince yourself of this. It’s just not worth it IMO. The whole point of eating in a restaurant is to let someone ELSE worry about the cooking and the clean up for a change. To take a load off your mind. For celiacs this is seldom the case.

        I’m reminded of that line from the Borat version of Kazakhstan’s anthem: “Filtration system [of swimming pool] a marvel to behold. It remove 80% of human solid waste.”

  7. Johanna GGG says:

    Such an amusing and creative post. Hope you had a great Easter and good luck with getting some sleep

  8. […] We’ve already talked about Easter and Passover (both obviously super gluten-free); and Lent, immediately preceding Easter, is fine for those who […]

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