On the evening of March 25, people around the world will begin the Passover holiday.
They will sit down for a Passover meal known as a seder, with small book known as a hagaddah, describing the rituals and blessing of the meal, and telling the great story of the journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land.
Here are ten things to know about Passover. If you’d like to know more or have questions comments, feel free to leave them below. (and don’t miss the free gift at the end!)
1. Passover celebrates not only the freedom of the Jewish people from Egypt long ago. It honors the freedom we seek today. Freedom from addictions, from materialism, from anything that distracts from the best that is within us.
2. The Passover seder (ritual meal) is the oldest religious ritual in continuous use in the Western world.
3. The Passover story has inspired leaders from different groups in different eras: From African Americans during slavery to pioneers of the modern state of Israel to those who struggle to expand our freedoms around the world today.
4. Both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wanted the seal of the United States to depict the Exodus story. Jefferson wanted a depiction of the Israelites crossing over the Red Sea. Franklin wanted a display of the cloud of God leading the Israelites through the wilderness.
5. Passover is also known as “The Holiday of Matzah,” emphasizing the importance of unleaved bread in observing the holiday. Matzah is eaten during the eight days of Passover because in their haste to escape from Egypt, the Israelites did not have time to let the yeast rise in their bread. Therefore, they ate unleaved bread, known as matzah.
6. The number four is important for Passover because God’s promise of redemption from Egypt is mentioned four times in the beginning of Exodus story, (Exodus 6:6-7). During the seder, we have the four cups of wine, four questions, four types of children, and four hundred years of slavery.
7. Passover revolves around children: Much of the ritual of the Passover seder is meant to keep children engaged. From the telling of the story to the hiding of the afikomen (dessert matzah) to the constant asking of questions is the Jewish sages attempt to make Passover an educational experience, as well as a religious one.
9. In Israel people still conclude the Seder with the words “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Even though they may be sitting and eating in city of Jerusalem, Jerusalem represents more than just a physical place. It sybolizes an era of peace, of harmony, of universal freedom.
10. In 1932 Maxwell House Coffee printed a Hagaddah (the book containing the passover rituals, blessings and story) as part of advertising campaign. It spread quickly and became the most widely-used Hagaddah in America. It was recently updated.
11. (Bonus): There are thousands of Hagaddahs in print today. A free one is available below!