Passover or Pesach (in Hebrew) is a celebration which lasts for 8 days. All Jewish holidays begin at sundown since Judaism follows the Lunar calendar. This year, Passover begin on April 12, 2006 or the 15th day of Nisan (Jewish month), 5766 (Jewish year).
Passover symbolizes the Jews Exodus from Egypt and the freeing of slavery. The prophet Moses is a main character of the Passover story and thought to be G-d’s messenger.
The most common tradition of Passover is the eating of Matzah or flat bread. The reason behind eating Matzah comes from when the fact there was not enough time for the bread to rise when Moses freed the slaves. The Jewish people grabbed some of their belongings and took off, one being the dough for the bread they were baking. Because the Jews walked on foot away from their capturer Pharaoh, the dough was carried on their backs in the hot sun. Due to this, Matzah became one of the symbols of Passover.
In more recent times, the tradition of clearing our homes of any bread or yeast products before the celebration of Passover is practiced.
Some Jews will:
Give away their food items to homeless shelters,
Others will sell it to their temple,
Some will designate a cabinet in their home during the holiday to store the bread items in and
not open till after Pesach,
Each Jewish family observes this custom the way they feel comfortable.
The night before Pesach, the family goes around with a feather, a wooden spoon, a candle, and a brown paper bag. All the bread products or Chametz should be cleaned out of the home before the arrival of Passover. The feather is to brush up the crumbs from the tiny spaces onto the wooden spoon and thrown into the small brown bag. (Most families will do a thorough cleaning with a vacuum cleaner.)
More Pesach customs on their way!