Sunday, April 24, 2005

Passover & Days of Unleavened Bread

Raspal's painting of a Provençal wearing a Huguenot cross
'Portrait de Jeune Fille en Costume d'Arles' by Antoine Raspal, 1779

Although the official position of the Roman Church in New France did not allow non-Catholics to remain within its territories, the British colonies did allow dissenters. Adherents of the French Protestant Church, commonly known as Huguenots, established colonies at New Rochelle and New Paltz in the Hudson Valley, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Charleston, South Carolina.

A weeklong Passover celebration, similar to the first century Church's Festival of Unleavened Bread, was kept by the Charleston congregation of the French Protestant Church in addition to Easter, as evidenced by its Liturgy, written down in 1713 and republished in 1737 and 1772. Several other Christian denominations have continued the Reformation journey by keeping Passover and the commemoration of the Ascension in the Wave Sheaf Offering, while dropping the observance of Easter.

The practices of the French Reformed Church in France are not available here in the colonies for study, but in the paintings of Raspal from the region of Arles in Provence, the prominent display of the Huguenot cross by his models suggests that the French Reformed Church was still alive and dynamic in the 18thC within Provence. Some French officers' journals state that the habitantes' costumes of New France reminded them of Provençals--this should have been doubly true of French Huguenots in the British colonies, suggesting that there should have been a similarity of religious practice. Now stretching the inference, it might be said that the French Reformed Church had a similar liturgy in Provence as in Charleston. Although the evidence of this is lacking, it can be clearly stated that the French Reformed Church in Charleston, SC, kept the Passover as a week-long festival and kept an eight-day festival observance in the seventh month (be sure and click the arrow for the next page to see the continuation), an observance similar to Succoth (or Feast of Tabernacles as kept by modern Christian fellowships that also keep the Passover).

Because the French Reformed Church in 18thC South Carolina kept a Passover festival, recipes intended for Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread have a place in French Huguenot cuisine.

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