It's Passover Time! What You Need to Know About this Jewish Holiday!

By Edited by South Charlotte Macaroni Kid March 12, 2023

Passover, also known as Pesach — the Hebrew word for Passover — is celebrated during the spring and commemorates the Jew's exodus from Egypt where they were slaves to the pharaoh. Learn more about the story of Passover here, Passover is my second favorite Jewish holiday (behind Purim) and it has been a fan favorite for all my children's non-Jewish friends. Each year at our seder table you will find 10+ teenagers who come for the food, fun, and experience of Passover. Passover is a holiday where we invite others into our homes to share the meal and story of Passover, as we were once strangers in a strange land (Egypt) we now open our homes to include anyone who would like to be included. This year my son turns 18 on the second night of Passover so we are expecting a crowd! 

When is Passover? 

The date of Passover changes each year because the dates are set by the lunar calendar. In 2024, the first seder will be on April 22nd at sundown. For the first 2 nights of Passover (one if you live in Israel) we have a special seder where we retell the story of Passover, eat a huge and amazing meal, laugh, cry, send our kids on a crazy scavenger hunt, and feel eternally grateful to be together in freedom. 

What is the seder plate? 

A seder plate includes food symbolic of Passover: You'll find a roasted shank bone (representing the paschal sacrifice); an egg (representing spring and the circle of life); bitter herbs (representing the bitterness of slavery); haroset, an apple mixture with wine, nuts, and apples or dates (representing the mortar used by the Jews in Egypt); and karpas, often parsley (to represent spring). You'll also find Matzah, a cracker-like unleavened bread, representing the food the Israelites took with them when they fled Egypt.

What is served at the seder?

 My family's traditional seder meal consists of brisket (I can't give you my recipe but this one is almost as good), matzah ball soup, farfel kugel, deviled eggs, a green vegetable, and lots of desserts! Every family has their own traditions and recipes that have been passed down (like my Bubbe's Passover rolls and stuffed cabbage) that are staples in their homes. The cooking for Passover starts weeks in advance! 

What is the Haggadah? 

The Haggadah is a book read during Seder telling the story of Passover and explaining various Passover rituals. There are many types of Haggadah'. My family has one that is a graphic novel of the story, other families use more traditional ones. The Haggadah you use can lengthen your seder! Everyone around the table is included in the reading, question-asking, or singing — some of which can get silly! The youngest child at the table often asks the traditional questions: 

  • Why does this night differ from all the other nights?
  • Why do we only eat unleavened bread? 
  • Why do we only eat bitter herbs tonight?
  • Why on this night do we dip twice? 
  • Why do we recline while eating tonight? 

How do I wish someone a Happy Passover?

You can say "Chag Pesach samech" which means "Happy Passover festival" in Hebrew. (Keep in mind the "ch" sound is not pronounced like the ch in child, but like the ch in Bach.) Want to stick with English? Simply saying "Happy Passover" is great too!