This year, Passover, which falls on the Hebrew calendar dates of Nissan 15-22, begins at sundown on April 10 and continues until the evening of April 18. The first two days of Passover, this year April 10 and 11, are when the Seder feast is held.
What is Passover?
Passover is a spring festival that lasts eight days, the same duration as Chanukah. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt during their emancipation from decades of slavery.
God sent Moses to the Pharaoh to ask for the slaves’ freedom, according to the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament.
Pharaoh refused and God sent 10 plagues, the last of which was the killing of the firstborn in every Egyptian home.
In Hebrew, Passover is called Pesach, meaning “to pass over,” because those who celebrate believe that God passed over the Jewish homes in Egypt and spared the lives of the first-born children in those homes on the first Passover eve.
As the Bible tells it, Pharoah practically chased the Jewish slaves out of Egypt after the last plague, leaving no time for bread, one of the provisions for the trek to Mount Sinai, to rise.
How is Passover celebrated?
From sundown on April 10 to nightfall two days later, no work is allowed on the “full-fledged festival days,” according to Chabad.org.
The next four days, Chol Hamoed, are work restricted days; activities like writing, laundry or going to work are avoided. Many Jewish families take their families to the park, zoo or museum on the “the weekday of the holiday.” Using electricity or driving a car is allowed unless one of the intermediate days falls on Shabbat (the Sabbath).
Chabad.org’s video, “Why am I Different,” explains more about Passover.
This article has been updated to correct names of the final two days of Passover. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are not the final days of Passover, as previously reported. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are the first two days of Sukkot, a holiday coming up in October. The seventh and eighth days of Passover are known as Shvii shel Pesach and Acharon shel Pesach.