What is Passover?


  • Passover is a Spring festival that commemorates the freedom of Jews from slavery in Egypt. It is one of the most significant festival of the Jews. Apart from their liberation by God from slavery, the Jewish community also celebrates their freedom as a nation under Moses. Passover is an eight day festival which is observed from 15th to the 22nd of the month of Nissan. In Israel, Passover is a seven day festival. In 2017, Passover will begin in the evening of April 10 and will culminate in the evening of April 18. On this day, people partake a special meal which is known as Seder. This meal comprises unleavened bread along with some other items that symbolize the aspects of the exodus.


  • The origin of the Passover is described in the book of Exodus. In ancient times, God had promised his people that he would free them from the slavery of the Pharaoh. For this, God sent Moses to the King of Egypt. God's command was to free all the people; however, the Pharaoh refused. With this God unleased ten plagues on Egypt. The tenth, which was also the worst of all the plagues, was the see the death of all the firstborn children in Egypt. However, the children of Israel were spared with God 'passing over' their homes. Thus the name of the festival became Passover, and is celebrated by the Jewish community around the world with a lot of enthusiasm.


  • Apart from its historical significance, Passover also has an agricultural significance as it symbolizes the start of the harvest season in Israel. Outside of Israel, on the first two and the last two days no work is allowed. It is in the intermediate days, which are known as Chol Ha-Mo’ed, that one is allowed to work.


  • Jews begin the festivities by cleaning their home of leaven. According to a tradition, Jews fleed from Egypt in a great hurry and hence there was no time for the bread to rise. This process occurs through leavening. The first night of the Passover witnesses the observance of the Seder ceremony. But Seder is also observed on other nights by some Jews. The Seder ceremony begins with a roasted egg, bitter herbs and charoset, lamb bone, green vegetables dipped in salt water, wine concoction and walnuts.


  • On this day Jews are also told the story of the Exodus which holds great significance for them.

 

Last Updated: 30th March, 2017