How Is Passover Celebrated? The Student Guide
Sameach Pesach! Jewish people across the globe are celebrating Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, which is a major Spring festival celebrating freedom and family.
This annual holiday is centred around the Biblical story of the Jewish people being freed from slavery in Egypt and has been celebrated for thousands of years.
The event is considered one of the most significant holidays in the Hebrew calendar, and is celebrated for seven or eight days, depending on the Jewish tradition. Every family has their own unique Passover traditions, which you can find out more about within our guide!
Carry on reading to discover more about Passover, the history behind this significant holiday, when it’s taking place this year and how it is celebrated.
When Is Passover 2023?
This year, Passover 2023 is taking place from sundown on April 5th until sundown on April 13th. The date of this significant Jewish holiday changes every year because it is based on the timings from the Hebrew calendar.
Passover is usually celebrated for either seven or eight days, but this varies.
In Israel and for most Reform Jews across the world Passover is celebrated for a period of seven days, whilst for many other Jews, it’s celebrated for eight days.
In 2023, Passover will begin on the evening of Wednesday 5th April.
What Is Passover?
Passover is essentially a festival of freedom and Justice, it commemorates the Biblical story of Exodus, where God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
During Passover, Jewish people remember the historical story from the Book of Exodus, Chapter 12 in the Hebrew Bible, the Torah.
The story dates back to more than 3,000 years ago, where a group of Jewish people called the Israelites were being kept as slaves by the ruler of Egypt called Pharaoh.
According to the biblical book of Exodus, God sent ten plagues upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery. The tenth and final plague was the killing of all firstborns in Egypt.
To protect themselves from this plague, the Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb and to eat unleavened bread. The Angel of Death “passed over” their homes and spared their firstborns.
To find out more about the history of the Passover story in Judaism, head here.
How Is Passover Celebrated?
Jewish communities from around the world celebrate Passover as a time to focus on their freedom, as after many years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites fled and reached Israel.
Despite taking place thousands of years ago, this significant holiday in the Jewish calendar is still so important, as a sacred reminder of freedom with celebrations taking place across the globe.
The first two days and the last two days of Passover are considered holidays, where no work is carried out by Jewish people.
If you’re wondering how exactly Passover is celebrated within the Jewish religion, you can find out below!
The main event of Passover celebrations is the Seder, which is a traditional meal where the Haggadah (the book of exodus) is read in a set order, symbolising slavery to freedom.
During the Seder, families and friends gather around a table to read from the Haggadah, a text that tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Everyone takes part in reading from the Haggadah, with some parts being read in Hebrew and others read in English.
Jewish people come on the first two nights of Passover to celebrate their freedom and service to God with one person usually acting as the leader of the Seder.
Not only does a Seder focus on the retelling of the story of the exodus from Egypt, but it also focuses on drinking 4 cups of wine, the singing of traditional songs, and the eating of symbolic foods, including matzah, maror and charoset.
During the celebration, a Seder plate is placed on the table, which is a special platter with symbolic foods including hard-boiled eggs, greens, a lamb bone, bitter herbs, salt water, haroset and matzah.
These foods represent the Jews’ experience of being enslaved and their Exodus from Egypt!
Throughout the whole period of Passover, it is forbidden for Jewish people to eat any leavened foods such as bread and pasta, known as chametz in Hebrew.
This is because the Jewish tradition states that during the period of time where the slaves escaped from Egypt, they did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise.
Instead, Jewish people will eat matzah which is an unleavened bread that represents what the Israelites ate while they were fleeing Egypt. Jews try to eat Matzah at every meal during Passover!
In the weeks leading up to Passover, Jewish families will thoroughly clean their homes in order to remove all traces of chametz (leavened products).
This spring cleaning includes scrubbing down kitchens, dusting, mopping, sweeping and removing any bread or grains from the house. This is a symbolic way of preparing for the holiday which celebrates freedom.
Preparing the home for the Jewish holiday, is also about decorating the home with Passover symbols such as the Seder plate, Matzah, and Passover Haggadah.
Regardless if you’ve been celebrating Passover all of your life, or looking for new ways to get involved, we hope this guide has been useful to learn more about this meaningful celebration in the Jewish calendar.
This important Jewish holiday is about coming together with family and friends, learning about the history of the Jewish people, and commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
Why not get together with your friends and have your own special Passover meal for this religious holiday?
For those living in our student accommodation properties, you can even organise your own event for the Spring Festival by using our residents app, KLIQ.
If you’re celebrating one of the most important festivals in the Jewish year, don’t forget to tag us @_homesforstudents.