Passover is the holiday of matzah, seders and symbols. It’s one big celebration that acknowledges the liberation and freedom of the Jewish people. And how do most people celebrate? By retelling the Exodus, the “Passover story”: the narrative of the Israelite people fleeing slavery in Egypt to be free.
Curiously, it’s also the holiday Jewish Americans observe most. More Jewish Americans celebrate Passover than any other Jewish holiday—even more than the amount of people who light Hanukkah candles!
The word “Passover” comes directly from the story, specifically during the last plague (which God created 10 of to convince Pharaoh to “let my people go”). The last plague was the killing of all firstborn Egyptian sons, and God protected the Israelites’ children by telling them to slaughter a lamb. God instructed that they use its blood to mark the doorposts of their homes for the Angel of Death to “pass over” them. The Hebrew word for the holiday, Pesach, refers to the sacrifice of the lamb.
Passover typically takes place in March or April. Because the Jewish calendar is based on lunar cycles, the exact date on the secular calendar moves around. Some members of the Jewish community (usually Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, and Jews in Israel) celebrate the holiday for seven days, and others (usually Conservative and Orthodox Jews) for eight days. This decision often comes down to family or community traditions, and it’s a choice you can make for yourself.
At its core, Passover is a holiday that celebrates freedom. Enjoy this freedom to decide what your holiday looks like! It up to you and your family to celebrate in a way that represents your family, values, culture and whatever else make you, you.