Passover 2018 begins at sundown on Friday, March 30, and ends Saturday evening, April 7. The first Passover seder is on the evening of March 30, and the second Passover seder takes place on the evening of March 31.
What is Passover?
Passover is a festival of freedom.
It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, and their transition from slavery to freedom. The main ritual of Passover is the seder, which occurs on the first two night (in Israel just the first night) of the holiday — a festive meal that involves the re-telling of the Exodus through stories and song and the consumption of ritual foods, including matzah and maror (bitter herbs). The seder’s rituals and other readings are outlined in the Haggadah — today, many different versions of this Passover guide are available in print and online, and you can also create your own.
What are some Passover practices?
The central Passover practice is a set of intense dietary changes, mainly the absence of hametz, or foods with leaven. (Ashkenazi Jews also avoid kitniyot, a category of food that includes legumes.) In recent years, many Jews have compensated for the lack of grain by cooking with quinoa, although not all recognize it as kosher for Passover. The ecstatic cycle of psalms called Hallel is recited both at night and day (during the seder and morning prayers). Additionally, Passover commences a 49-day period called the Omer, which recalls the count between offerings brought to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. This count culminates in the holiday of Shavuot, the anniversary of the receiving of the Torah at Sinai.
What foods do we eat on Passover?
Matzah, or unleavened bread, is the main food of Passover. You can purchase it in numerous stores, or you can make your own. But the holiday has many traditional, popular foods, from haroset (a mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, and cinnamon) to matzah ball soup — and the absence of leavening calls upon a cook to employ all of his/her culinary creativity. View our extensive collection of Passover recipes here, or check out The Nosher, our lively food blog!
Pronounced: huh-GAH-duh or hah-gah-DAH, Origin: Hebrew, literally “telling” or “recounting.” A Haggadah is a book that is used to tell the story of the Exodus at the Passover seder. There are many versions available ranging from very traditional to nontraditional, and you can also make your own.
Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)
Pronounced: ah-fee-KOH-men, Origin: Greek, a piece of matzah that is hidden during the Passover seder, found after dinner and eaten as dessert at the end of the meal.
Pronounced: PAY-sakh, also PEH-sakh. Origin: Hebrew, the holiday of Passover.
Pronounced: kit-nee-YOTE, Origin: Hebrew, meaning “little things,” the term here refers to legumes, corn, rice and other non-hametz foods prohibited for use on Passover by some Ashkenazic rabbis in the medieval period. Many Sephardic Jews (and Conservative Jews) do allow them on Passover.
Pronounced: khah-METZ or KHUH-metz, Origin: Hebrew, bread or any food that has been leavened or contains a leavening agent. Hametz is prohibited on Passover.