Passover: What do People Do on the Holiday

Passover is almost here, so we wanted to tell you about how this Jewish holiday is celebrated in Israel. Here are what we, local Jewish people of Israel, do on Passover:

1 – They clean the house very thoroughly

Well, the truth is that we clean very thourougly a few days before Passover, so that the house is completely clean on Passover itself. What do we clean the house from? Chametz, which means all types of leavened food. That means bread, pasta and so on. On Passover we want to remember our slavery in Egypt and the Exodus from Egypt. Because we were in a hurry to get out of Egypt, we couldn’t wait for the bread to leaven, so we went out to the journey with unleavened bread. That is why on Passover we clean the house from the leavened products – so we feel like those Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

Many families take this opportunity to also do some Spring cleaning, so they clean every corner of the house, behind the storage cabinets, and even take out their windows for washing. Some even use this time to sort through the letters they’ve recieved throughout the whole year, or sort through their old clothes.

Cleaning for Passover

2 – They read the Haggadah together

As part of the holiday, we need to remember the story of our anscestors in Egypt and how they were freed from Egypt by GOD. So each year, every Jewish family comes together to read the Haggadah – the text telling the story of the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Bible. The Haggadah is read during Seder Pesach, the Passover feast, and includes blessings, stories and songs. It can take the whole night to be completed! That is how we pass this important story of liberation from generation to generation.

Haggadah of Passover
An ancient Haggadah

3 – They eat matzah

As we’ve already mentioned, in Passover we cannot eat leavened food. That means we cannot eat regular bread. Nowadays people eat bread baked from an unleavening type of flour, but whoever wants to stick to the traditional – eats matzah. Matzah is an unleavened type of flatbread, which is also part of the Haggadah story, as the Hebrew people made matzah flatbreads before their journey to Canaan, the Land of Israel. If you want to imagine the taste, then imagine a huge cracker with no taste! It is used in many recipes during Passover, including pizza on matzah, matzah eggrolls and matzah with chocolate spread. Most Israelis get tired of it very fast!

But if you really want to make your own matzah, here’s a recipe by Howcast:

4 – They travel

Of course, what is an Israeli holiday without travel? And Passover, the holiday which reminds us of our freedom, is without a doubt a great opportunity for the Israelis to travel abroad or within the country. We, Israelis, love to travel at every opportunity we get. This year – 2020 – we have the coronavirus, which will unfortunately make most of us stay at home, but we’re looking forward for the next opportunity.

Passover is seven days long. On the first two days of the holiday there is no public transportation, so if you don’t have a car you can’t travel, but afterwards, in the next couple of days everything works as usual and in normal years the attractions and national parks of Israel are flooded in this time of year.

Bonus: Why is Passover called Passover?

The holiday is called Passover because of what happened in Egypt. GOD inflicted 10 plagues on Egypt. On the last plague he went down on Egypt, passed through the homes and killed the firstborn child of every family. Though, he passed over the houses of the Hebrew families and therefore the Hebrew people were not harmed. In Hebrew, the holiday is called “Pesach”, which means “passed over”.

Have a Happy Passover!

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