Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays. It lasts for a week and during this week Jews remember and celebrate the Exodus. That is the story of Moses leading his people, enslaved by Egyptians, to the land of freedom. Passover is also celebrated by Karaites, Samaritans, and messianic Hebrews. To know when is Passover in 2017 you should start counting from the 14 of Nisan. So it will begin on the evening of the 10th of April and will finish on the evening of the 17th of April.
The history of Passover is actually the story of the Exodus. If you don’t remember it from the Bible, we would be glad to refresh your memory so if somebody asks you what is the date of Passover 2017 you could not only answer his (or her?) question but also tell what actually Jewish people celebrate on that day.
The Jewish people came to Egypt and lived there for about 400 years. After some time their population exceeded the population of the Egyptian people. So the Pharaoh made Jews do hard labor to reduce their number. As this solution didn’t work as he expected the Pharaoh ordered to kill all Jewish newborn boys. As Moses was born at that cruel time his mother decided to save his life putting him into a basket and let it down the river Nile. Pharaoh daughter found the baby and raised him as her own.
Once Moses, being already an adult person, saw an Egyptian slave driver slaughtering a Jewish man. Moses killed him and left Egypt for Midianite land, where he got married and became a shepherd. Someday God showed himself to Moses in a burning bush and told him to come back to Egypt to save his people, the Jews, from slavery and help them to move to Canaan as it was promised to forefathers.
Being 80 years old Moses came back to Egypt and asked the Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go, but the Pharaoh turned his request down. Then God sent 10 Plagues to Egypt and after the last of them, when all the Egyptian firstborn children died, the Pharaoh let the Hebrews go. But soon after the Pharaoh changed his decision again and set off after Moses and his people. God helped the Jewish people to go through the sea splitting the waters and drowned the Pharaoh’s army.
Having got to know what day is Passover in 2017 you would probably be happy to hear that it is not a day but a whole week and the first and the last days of it are full holidays in Israel.
The strictest taboo for this week is to eat and even own chametz (leavened bread). That is bread and everything else containing fermented or yeasted grains. Torah says should be eaten during Passover. It is damper, that was eaten by the Hebrew people in Egypt.
The most famous Passover tradition is connected with chametz:
- Weeks before Passover all Hebrew families clean their houses from everything considered to be chametz. They dust every corner, every shelf as the dust itself can contain particles of chametz though Halakha allows keeping chametz smaller than an olive in its size. Still, spring-clean is made in every Jewish house as a part of the preparation for Passover.
- At the same time, every family tries to eat and drink all the chametz they have, that is bread, cookies, soup mixes, etc.
- All the valuable chametz, for example, alcohol made of grains, is allowed to be sold to non-Jewish people. Rabbi organizes the selling of the chametz, but the final price should be agreed after Passover. The buyer makes symbolical first payment only. After the holiday the seller usually contacts the buyer to get the chametz back though the buyer has his right to keep it for himself. So if somebody non-Jewish asks you when is Passover day 2017, keep in mind he can be interested in buying alcohol from Jews which is considered to be of good quality.
- On the 14th of Nisan, when darkness falls, every family man starts searching for chametz. Reading special blessing he inspects every room with a candle to see clearly every corner, a feather to sweep all the crumbles and a wooden spoon to gather them in order to burn them next day. There is also a tradition to hide 10 pieces of bread in foil somewhere in the house so that the family man’s blessing wouldn’t be said in vain.
Events to celebrate
Celebrating Passover in some Jewish family in the morning you can take part in burning of the chametz found on the previous evening.
If you are a firstborn man, your day on Passover should start from fasting. But don’t be sad – it will not last long. Actually, it lasts only until the morning service in a synagogue which is finished with the festive meal.
But the central event of the day is Passover Seder.
During this meal please don’t forget to drink 4 glasses of wine or grape juice and to eat:
- at least one piece of matzo;
- an egg and a chicken wing or meat on a bone;
- maror that is bitter herb;
- karpas (traditional vegetable dish);
- charoset (paste of nuts and fruits).
During the meal, special blessings should be said as well.
When you get to know when is Passover in 2017, calendar should inform you when is the 7th day of Passover. On that day you should go to the sea or some other water and sing Song of the Sea.