What is Passover?

Passover is the commemoration of the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. It is known as Pesach in Hebrew. The holiday originated in the Torah, where the word Pesach refers to the ancient Passover sacrifice. It also said to refer to the idea that God passed over the houses of the Jews during the 10th plague when the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were slain. The holiday is the celebration of freedom. The story of the exodus is not only appreciated by the Jews but also people from other faiths as well.

The Seder

The Passover lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days in the Diaspora. The main highlight of this holiday is the seder (literally, “order”). It is a festive meal where the story of the exodus and related writings (haggadah) is recited in the set order. It is forbidden to eat leavened food products (like pasta, bread, etc.) The reason why they do this is because the Jewish tradition states that in their hurry to escape Egypt, they did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise. Instead, they ate unleavened bread, known as Matzah. Part of the seder includes hiding the afikoman. The children search it and if they find, they receive a prize.

Preparation

The preparation of the Passover involves cleaning all the corners of the home and getting rid of any leavened products. There are some Jews who burn the products. Others will keep them in a place where they won’t be seen, and sell the chamtez as a symbol. This can be done at the local synagogue and sold for a few coins. Many Jews have special Passover dishes they only use once every year.

Passover Foods

Passover foods are usually unique because apart from kosher rules, there are more rules to be followed when preparing the kosher for Passover. Symbolic foods are usually eaten. Some of the symbolic foods eaten are : Maror (bitter herbs, usually horseradish, reminds Jews of the bitterness of slavery), salt water (a symbol of the slaves’ tears) Charoset (a sweet paste made of nuts and fruits, a symbol of the mortar used to build the Egyptian pyramids by the slaves) Beitzah (hard-boiled egg, a symbol of birth and life associated with the spring season) zeroah (shank bone, it represents the Passover sacrifice) and karpas (a leafy green vegetable, usually a piece of lettuce, which symbolizes hope and redemption). There is also a requirement to drink four glasses of wine throughout the seder.