Washington: President Barack Obama extended Easter and Passover greetings on Saturday as Americans celebrated the Christian and Jewish holidays.
"These holidays have their roots in miracles that took place thousands of years ago. They connect us to our past and give us strength as we face the future," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "And they remind us of the common thread of humanity that connects us all."
Passover began at sundown on Friday and ends on April 14. It commemorates the Israelites' exodus from slavery in Egypt, receipt of the Torah at Mount Sinai and eventual journey into the Promised Land.
At a festive dinner called a Seder, unleavened bread is consumed during the seven-day holiday to re-live the hasty flight from Egypt, during which there was no time to allow the bread to rise.
The Gospels say Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion and burial on the morning of what has become known as Easter Sunday -- the most important day of the year for Christians.
"For me, and for countless other Christians, Easter weekend is a time to reflect and rejoice," Obama said in the address stressing his own religious fervor.
"Christ's triumph over death holds special meaning for Christians. But all of us, no matter how or whether we believe, can identify with elements of His story. The triumph of hope over despair. Of faith over doubt.
"The notion that there is something out there that is bigger than ourselves."
Obama, a Christian who attends church regularly with his family, has faced slurs in the past from opponents who painted him as un-American and even a "closet Muslim" -- his middle name is Hussein.
Saying the core values at the heart of Easter and Passover "help unite Americans of all faiths and backgrounds," Obama wishes all Americans "a weekend filled with joy and reflection, focused on the things that matter most."