Passover Dates, Foods and Traditions (2020)

When Is Passover?

 Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday, April 8, 2020,  and ends the evening of Thursday, April 16, 2020.

What Is Passover?

Passover (Pesach) is a religious holiday commemorating the Jews’ Exodus from two centuries of bondage in Egypt. Families and friends gather annually during the first month in the Hebrew religious calendar to recount the liberation and meal eaten by the Jews in Egypt on the original Passover. The foods of Passover help retell the story of deliverance and pass on traditions and religious beliefs. (To read the full account of the first Passover, read Exodus, chapter 12 in the Holy Bible. The Haggadah Jewish text is read at the Seder.)

What does Kosher mean?

We’ve all heard the term “kosher” associated with Jewish foods. Kosher means “fit.” Kosher food is “fit to eat” once it passes certain technical and dietary regulations that avoid prohibited foods. It is often certified kosher by rabbinical authorities.

While the foods served during Passover vary, there are foods that you won’t find on a traditional Passover Seder table. The customary restricted foods do vary around the world. In a nutshell, the widely followed Passover dietary restrictions prohibit the consumption of these foods:

  • Leavening agents (baking powder or soda, and yeast.) This represents the hasty departure and deliverance of the Jews from ancient Egyptian. They were instructed not to wait for the bread to rise before leaving.
  • Ordinary Grains (Only Kosher matzo, unleavened bread is served at Passover.)
  • Legumes (peas, beans, and lentils)

The Seder Dinner

The symbolic foods of Passover are the key elements of the Seder dinner. Small portions of each are arranged on a plate and prominently displayed on the table. The foods are tasted as the significance of each is told in relation to the Israelites’ Exodus from Egyptian bondage. The symbolic foods on most Passover Seder plates include:

Karpas is a mild green vegetable, usually celery or parsley. At the onset of the ceremony, the karpas is dipped into salt water and eaten. The green vegetable symbolizes the new growth in spring, and the salt water represents the tears shed by the Israelites during enslavement.

Maror is a bitter herb. Horseradish or endive is used to represent the years of bitter slavery that the Hebrews endured.

Charoset, Haroset or Charoses is a sweet paste or spread made of fruits and nuts and wine. It symbolizes the mortar that the Jewish slaves prepared while building the Egyptian pharaohs’ cities.

Zeroah is a roasted shank bone. It is symbolic of the sacrificial paschal lamb at the Temple, which was then roasted for the meal.

Baytzah is a roasted egg. It serves as a symbol of an additional festival offering brought to the Temple on Pesach. The egg also represents mourning the Jews feel for the loss of the Temple.

We’ve put together a selection of recipes for you to experience the foods of Passover. These delicious foods may be typically found at a Passover Seder dinner or at any meal during the Passover holiday. However, you don’t have to wait to be invited to a Passover dinner to sample any of these cultural recipes.

Recipes for Passover

Date and Pecan Haroset

(No cooking, food-processor recipe)

Although Charoset (or Haroset) is used on the symbolic Seder plate, you’ll want to make extra — this sweet, delicious and versatile side dish can be served at dinner as a relish, spread on celery sticks, or matzos, as a topping on fresh fruit, or on slices of cake for dessert.

Yield: 1 ½ cups

1 cup pitted dates
1 apple, peeled and diced
¾ cup pecan pieces (or walnuts, if preferred)
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons dessert red wine

Directions:

Chop dates in the food processor. Add the diced apple and nuts to the food processor and pulse several times to chop the nuts and thoroughly combine. Add the cinnamon, ginger, and honey, and pulse. Remove the top of the food processor and run a spatula around the sides of the container to thoroughly incorporate the mixture. Pour in one tablespoon of the sweet red wine and pulse. Add a second tablespoon and pulse again. Add the last tablespoon of wine, and pulse to incorporate. Transfer mixture to a glass storage container with lid and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This can be made a day or two ahead.

The following two yummy Passover dessert recipes were submitted by Dr. Eric Mintz of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Miracle Bars

Easy and yummy!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups ground almonds or almond meal
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9” x 13” pan with Kosher vegetable oil or coconut oil. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Batter will be thick but do not add any water. Mix well. Transfer batter into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 23 minutes. Cool in pan and cut into squares.

Chocolate Matzah

“This recipe was given to me by a friend several years ago. It is such a hit, I make it every year,” Dr. Mintz.

Ingredients:

24 ounces (2 packages) semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup Kosher vegetable oil
8 ounces matzah farfel (Jewish cuisine, sold in packages, it’s matzo broken into small pieces)
1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup raisins
10.5 ounces mini marshmallows (labeled Kosher for Passover, if observing Passover)

Directions:

Carefully microwave chocolate and oil in a large glass bowl for one minute and stir. Repeat the process until chocolate is almost melted. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and mix all together with a large spoon. Line a tray with wax paper. Spread the mixture onto wax paper and place in the freezer overnight. The next day, remove from freezer and break the candy apart into pieces. Place in sealable containers and keep refrigerated, or freeze.

Learn how to make Matzoh Brei for the holiday meal!

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