Passover is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar.
Jews celebrate the Feast of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) to commemorate the liberation of the Children of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses.
The celebrations last for seven or eight days.
The Children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 210 years. God promised he would release them from slavery, but not before Pharaoh had refused their release and God had visited ten plagues on Egypt to demonstrate his power. (Exodus 3: 19-20)
Before celebrations can begin the house must be cleaned from top to bottom to remove any traces of chametz (leaven) from the home. This commemorates the Jews leaving Egypt who did not have time to let their bread rise.
Fast of the Firstborn
The day before Passover begins the Fast of the Firstborn is observed. All first born males fast on this day to celebrate their escape from the Plague of the First Born.
Friends and family gather together for ritual seder meals. Special plates and cutlery are used which are kept exclusively for Passover.
The seder plate has symbolic food on it
- Bitter herbs and vegetables dipped in salt remind Jews how bitter and hard their time in Egypt was.
- A bone from the leg of a lamb, reminds Jews of the lambs which were killed.
- Charoset is a paste made of apple and nuts. It stands for the mud bricks which the slaves were forced to make.
- A hardboiled, slightly roasted egg reminds Jews of their new life of freedom.
During the meals the story of each of the ten plagues is read out. A drop of wine is spilt to remind Jews that their liberation was tinged with sadness at the suffering of the Egyptians.
The last words of the Seder are:
'Next year in Jerusalem;
Next year may all be free.'
The interactive Sedar Plate