What does Passover mean?
The Jewish holiday of Passover (in Hebrew, Pesach) commemorates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The holiday originated in the Torah, where the word pesach refers to the ancient Passover sacrifice (known as the Paschal Lamb); it is also said to refer to the idea that God “passed over” (pasach) the houses of the Jews during the 10th plague on the Egyptians, the slaying of the first born. The holiday is ultimately a celebration of freedom, and the story of the exodus from Egypt is a powerful metaphor that is appreciated not only by Jews, but by people of other faiths as well.
What night is Passover Seder?
The Passover Seder is a feast held on the first night of Passover that marks the beginning of the holiday. Some Jewish diasporas also hold a seder on the second night of holiday.
How is Passover celebrated?
Passover is observed for seven days in Israel and eight days in the Diaspora. The main event of the Passover holiday is the seder (literally, “order”), a festive meal in which the haggadah (the book of exodus and related writings) is recited in a set order. During the entire duration of the holiday, it is forbidden to eat leavened food products (such as bread, pasta, etc.). The reason for this is that Jewish tradition states that in their haste to escape from Egypt the Jews did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise. Instead, they ate matzah, unleavened bread. Part of the Passover seder includes hiding the afikoman (half of a matzah that is kept between two other matzahs during the seder and later hidden). Children search for the afikoman and usually receive a prize for finding it.
For many Jews, the process of preparing for Passover involves cleaning every corner of the home and removing all leavened products, known as chametz. Some Jews practice biur chametz (burning chametz). Others keep all the chametz in a separate area of the house where it won’t be seen, and symbolically sell the chametz. This can be done through a local synagogue, and chametz is usually sold for a nominal amount of money (often a few coins). Many Jews have special Passover dishes that are only used once a year during the holiday.
What kinds of foods are eaten on Passover?
Passover foods are unique in that, beyond the usual rules of keeping kosher, there are special rules for preparing food that is kosher for Passover. Of course, matzah is a central part of the seder and of Passover meals throughout the duration of the holiday. Symbolic foods eaten at the seder are: maror (bitter herbs, usually horseradish, a reminder of the bitterness of slavery), salt water (symbolizing the tears of the slaves), charoset (sweet paste made of fruit and nuts, symbolizing the mortar the slaves used to build the Egyptian pyramids), zeroah (shank bone, representing the Passover sacrifice), beitzah (hard-boiled egg, symbolic of life and birth associated with the spring season), and karpas (a leafy green vegetable, usually a piece of lettuce, symbolizing hope and redemption). It is required to drink four cups of wine throughout the seder.
Some traditional Ashkenazi Passover dishes include gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, brisket, and kosher-for-Passover kugels, and tzimmis (sweet carrot and fruit dish), and macaroons and sponge cake (made from matzah meal) for dessert. A popular breakfast food during the holiday is matzah brie (matzah soaked in water, dipped in egg, and fried).
Sephardic Jews have different kosher rules for Passover than Ashkenazi Jews. Sephardic Jews allow legumes (kitniyot), nuts, corn, and rice to be eaten, while Ashkenazi Jews do not.
Which food prepared for Seder represents the bitterness of slavery?
According to the Haggadah, maror (bitter herbs such as horseradish or romaine lettuce), symbolizes the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
For a detailed guide to Passover cooking and the unique holiday kosher restrictions, check out this post:
What is the proper greeting for Passover?
Want to with your Jewish friends a happy holiday? The greeting for Passover is simply “Chag Sameach!” (Happy Holidays) or “Chag Pesach Sameach!” (Happy Passover Holiday). In Hebrew it’s “Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach!” or“Chag kasher vesame’ach!”
When is Passover?
Passover begins on the 15th of Nisan and continues for seven days (in Israel) or eight days (in the Diaspora). Below are the dates in the Hebrew calendar as well as our standard Gregorian calendar.
Passover occurs on the following dates:
Jewish Year 5781: Sunset March 27, 2021 – Nightfall April 3, 2021
Jewish Year 5782: Sunset April 15, 2022 – Nightfall April 22, 2022
Jewish Year 5783: Sunset April 5, 2023 – Nightfall April 12, 2023
Jewish Year 5784: Sunset April 22, 2024 – Nightfall April 29, 2024
Jewish Year 5785: Sunset April 12, 2025 – Nightfall April 19, 2025
Jewish Year 5786: Sunset April 1, 2026 – Nightfall April 9, 2026
Jewish Year 5787: Sunset April 21, 2027 – Nightfall April 29, 2027
Jewish Year 5788: Sunset April 10, 2028 – Nightfall April 18, 2028
Jewish Year 5789: Sunset March 30, 2029 – Nightfall April 7, 2029
Jewish Year 5790: Sunset April 17, 2030 – Nightfall April 25, 2030