Jewish people across the world are celebrating their most celebrated holiday, per USA Today — Passover.

For centuries, Passover has been an important holiday for Jewish people with deep meaning and rituals behind it. Here’s a brief explainer on when Passover is, what Passover is and what a typical Passover Seder is.

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When is Passover?

Passover this year begins on sundown on April 5 and concludes on April 13.

What is Passover?

Passover commemorates a story narrated in the Book of Exodus. As the story goes, God commands Moses to tell the Israelites to swipe the blood of a lamb on the top of their door so the destroying angel would pass over their houses. God frees Israelites from slavery, which is what Passover commemorates.

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One of the main symbols associated with the holiday is unleavened bread known as matzo. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the symbol of unleavened bread represents how quickly the Israelites had to leave Egypt and their suffering in their circumstances.

Mya Jaradat said in the Deseret News, “On Passover every year, Jews read the story of how God brought us out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom. We are commanded to think of the story as both our ancestors’ and our own. We’re not just reading a text about the ancient Hebrews making a journey — it is as though we are also sojourners making the transition from oppression to liberation.”

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What is a typical Passover meal?

A typical Passover meal, also known as a Seder, includes “four cups of wine, veggies dipped in saltwater, flat, dry cracker-like bread called matzah, bitter herbs, often horseradish (without additives) and romaine lettuce, dipped into charoset (a paste of nuts, apples, pears and wine), and a festive dinner that may contain time-honored favorites, like chicken soup and gefilte fish,” according to Chabad.

Each of the components of each dish have special meaning. Chabad listed the meanings of each component of the meal.

  • Wine: There are four cups, which each represent an expression of freedom. Wine is said to be used because it represents joy.
  • Vegetable in salt water: According to Chabad, “The Hebrew word karpas (parsley), when read backwards, alludes to the backbreaking labor performed by the 600,000 Jews in Egypt.” The vegetable dipped in salt water represents this.
  • Matzo: The matzo — known as “the bread of poverty” — is the unleavened bread representing how the Israelites had to leave Egypt so quickly that they couldn’t leaven their bread.
  • Bitter herbs and lettuce: The bitter herbs represent “the bitterness of enslavement,” according to Spruce Eats.
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