While there is a lot of conversation about Easter around this time of year, it’s time to talk Passover. A Passover celebration involves memorable storytelling, festive singing, and lots of food and wine. Want to learn more? Read on!
This meaningful Jewish holiday, which commemorates and retells the story of the Hebrews’ freedom from slavery in Egypt is something that everyone should experience at some point. Whether you’re interested in learning about a Passover celebration because of children, an interfaith marriage, to attend a Passover celebration with a friend, or simply cultural and religious curiosity, we’re glad you’re here and hope you enjoy! Here are the basics.
Table of Contents
What is Passover?
Passover comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means “pass over.” Jewish Virtual Library shares that this is because God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt during the last of the ten plagues.
When Can You Hold Your Passover Celebration?
According to Chabad, in 2022, Pesach (Passover) is from April 15 to April 23. Like all Jewish holidays, the celebration starts at sundown and runs through sundown on the last day.
Before the Passover Celebration Begins
For Passover, families remove chametz, or leavened bread, from their homes. Chametz is food that contains yeast that hasn’t been cooked within 18 minutes from being in contact with water. This is done in memory of when the Jewish people were fleeing Egypt, as they did not have time to let the bread rise. Before the Passover celebration begins, an extensive cleaning process takes place to not only remove the leavened bread itself but to properly cleanse any areas where it may have been. This is replaced with matzah until Passover concludes.
About the Passover Celebration Seder
The central part of the Passover celebration is the Seder, a meal that commemorates the significance of the holiday. On the first night, a meal filled with ritual is planned. According to Jewish Virtual Library, “this meal is called the Seder, which is a Hebrew root word meaning ‘order.’ It is the same root from which we derive the word ‘siddur,’ or prayer book.” Specific foods (described in more detail below) are displayed on a special Seder plate and are the centerpiece of the meal.
Families follow along with prayers and songs in a special prayer book called a Haggadah. Many varieties of the Haggadah exist, including Hebrew and English languages, traditional and non-traditional styles, long and short lengths, and even kid-friendly.
Tip: If you are planning a Seder dinner and kids will be in attendance, do yourselves (and everyone else involved!) a favor and try a Haggadah for children. In addition to including simpler language and engaging visuals, a children’s Haggadah will most definitely be written with a child’s attention span in mind. A traditional Passover celebration can be many hours long. If you are expecting a child who is new to the experience to sit through this very lengthy traditional Passover celebration, you may be in for a not-so-pleasant surprise!
Kid-friendly Seder Stories
As we mentioned, the Haggadah is a central part of the Passover celebration. Here are some popular choices that may work for your family:
- 30 Minute Seder: The Haggadah That Blends Brevity With Tradition
- The New American Haggadah: A Simple Passover Seder for the Whole Family
- PJ Library Family Haggadah [Free PDF Download!]
Additionally, you may want to pick up some kid-friendly reading before the Passover celebration begins. Here are some favorites, according to PJ Library:
READ MORE: 7 Meaningful Stories With Morals For Kids
14 Things to Know About the Passover Seder
As Jewish Virtual Library states, the content of the seder is summed up in fourteen parts. To help you be in the know before you go, we’ll go over each briefly below:
Kaddesh (Sancitifcation) – This is the start of the Seder, the blessing over the wine, and drinking the first glass of wine. (Grab some grape juice so the kids can join in the fun!)
Urechatz (Washing) – Just as it sounds, hands are washed before the Seder begins. This is a good reminder for the littles that this should be done every day (like it or not)!
Karpas (Vegetable) – A vegetable, often parsley, is dipped in salt water and eaten, which symbolizes the tears that were shed in the days of Jewish slavery. One of the most interesting parts of the Seder dinner is witnessing all of the actions filled with symbolism unfold.
Yachatz (Breaking) – A piece of matzah is broken. Part of it is set aside for the afikomen, a game that will be played later. More on that soon! The rest of the matzah is returned to the pile.
Maggid (The Story) – This is the retelling of the Passover celebration story, using a Haggadah, which includes prayer, singing, “the four questions,” and more. At the end, enjoy the second cup of wine!
Rachtzah (Washing) – Another washing of hands, this time with a prayer, before the matzah is eaten.
Motzi Matzah (Blessings) – A blessing over the matzah, followed by eating the matzah.
Maror (Bitter Herbs) – Bitter herbs representing the bitterness of slavery are blessed and eaten next. Typically horseradish is used – and not the creamy, subtle kind either. No, we’re talking about the good stuff, straight up! It’s fine for the kids to take part, just make sure that they only try a little bit, until you’re sure they can handle it!
Korech (Sandwich) – Next comes what is often referred to as a “Hillel sandwich,” named after the rabbi who loved this tasty treat. A little bit of maror is added to a piece of matzah and paired with charoset – a tangy blend of chopped apples, dried fruit, nuts, honey, cinnamon, and wine. Add another piece of matzo on top, and you have a delightfully sweet and spicy Hillel sandwich! In our experience, kids love this interactive sandwich-building part of the dinner. (Also, this is typically when the grown-ups start getting hungry, too – consider it an appetizer!)
Shulchan Orech (Dinner) – You’ve made it this far – now let’s eat! A festive meal is enjoyed with family. There is no requirement on what should be served, with the exception of upholding the “no leavened bread” Passover rule that we discussed earlier. We often begin with matzoh ball soup and follow with a delicious slow-roasted brisket, potato pancakes, egg noodle kugel, and several salads. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it!
Tip: Wherever you can, get the kids involved in the preparation. They don’t need to help with everything, but in our home, jobs like shaping matzah balls or squeezing and flattening the potato mixture into pancakes are always big hits! Helping create the meal will give the kids a huge sense of pride when it comes time to serve it as well!
Tzafun (Dessert) – Now that everyone’s bellies are full, it’s time for even more fun! Remember that piece of matzah that we put aside earlier, called the afikomen? Well, that’s technically “dessert” and while dinner was being served, one sneaky family member was probably hiding it somewhere in the home! Children begin the hunt and when the afikomen is found, the kids can negotiate with the grownups to give it back. Is it worth a gold coin? Several dollars? Or maybe a surprise gift bag purchased ahead of time! Building excitement around the afikomen is a great way to keep the kids engaged throughout the meal and engaged until the end.
READ MORE: Raising Kids With An Attitude Of Gratitude
Tip: While we’re talking about dessert, we can’t leave without sharing our favorite Passover dessert recipe with you. Passover Chocolate Toffee Matzah from Oh! Nuts Blog is a fantastic way to end your Seder. This sweet, crunchy, chocolatey goodness is always a crowd-pleaser. And it’s simple to make, too!
Barech (Grace) – Guess what time it is? Why it’s time to pour another glass of wine! A blessing over the wine is shared and everyone enjoys their third glass. (See? There’s no need to be intimidated by your first Passover celebration with kids – we promise, it can be a lot of fun!) And if you enjoyed that one, boy do we have a surprise for you! A (you guessed it!) fourth cup of wine is then poured! This time, an extra glass is also poured for the prophet, Elijah, and a door is opened as if to welcome him into the home.
Hallel (Song) – As the ritual begins to draw to a close, psalms are recited or sung and the fourth cup of wine is enjoyed.
Nirtzah (Closing) – Finally, the Seder is complete. The leader officially states that the Passover celebration has ended, wishes everyone blessings, and wraps up with a final prayer or song.
Mazel Tov! You’ve made it to the end of the Passover celebration!
Just because a Passover Seder is a tradition-rich meal full of meaning and ritual doesn’t mean it has to be intimidating! Whether this is your very first Seder or just your first with kids, we hope this guide helps you and them know what to expect. We’re looking forward to hearing about your family’s best Passover celebration yet!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Trying to prep the house for your upcoming Passover celebration? You may want to check out 7 Best Cleaning Tips To Help Working Moms Clean The House Fast.
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