What is Passover?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Passover is the Jewish celebration lasting seven to eight days (seven in Israel, eight outside of it) that marks the freedom of the Jews from enslavement by the Egyptians. According to the Old Testament, the Jews, led by Moses, had requested freedom from the Pharaoh of Egypt, but were denied. To punish the Egyptians, God sent the 10 plagues to Egypt to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews. The last of these plagues, and the most devastating, was to kill the firstborn male in each Egyptian household.

Sweet apples are often eaten during Passover.
Sweet apples are often eaten during Passover.

The Jews marked their doors with the blood of a sacrificed lamb so that the Angel of Death would know to protect their firstborn sons. This allowed Death to “pass over” the Jews in fulfillment of this last plague. Passover is often translated from the term Pesach which means to "pass over" or "to protect." In commemoration of avoidance of this last plague and the resulting freedom from Egypt, Jews across the world now celebrate Passover.

Most Christians see Jesus' last meal as a Passover Seder.
Most Christians see Jesus' last meal as a Passover Seder.

During the celebrations of Passover, the first two nights are spent in Seder or feasting. These special feasts include the eating of particular foods like bitter herbs, sweet apples, and the traditional matzah bread. When the Pharaoh released the Jews, they fled their homes so quickly that there was no time to allow their regular bread to rise. Unleavened bread was tossed into baskets for the journey back to Israel, and baked by the sun, resulting in a flatbread or cracker. In response, Jews who adhere to dietary laws rid their homes of all leavened bread, called chametz, before Passover begins.

Matzoh, which is an unleavened flatbread, is traditionally eaten at Passover Seders.
Matzoh, which is an unleavened flatbread, is traditionally eaten at Passover Seders.

The day before Passover begins is often called the Fast of the Firstborn. Firstborn males in the family may fast in remembrance of the fact that firstborn Jewish males were spared during the slaughter of the firstborns in Egypt. Also the first and last days of Passover are days when work is prohibited.

Honey is traditionally included on the Seder plate at Passover.
Honey is traditionally included on the Seder plate at Passover.

Passover is both a holy time and a celebratory one. It is associated with the spring and is begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month, Nisan. Since the Jewish calendar is based on the Lunar Cycle, the date of Passover changes yearly in the Gregorian calendar, but typically, Passover falls in March or April.

During Passover, Jews read from the text of the Haggadah. This text is similar to Exodus in the Old Testament, and also includes instructions for the appropriate celebrating of Passover and the proper way to conduct Passover Seders. Passover is also an instructional time for young members of the family, who learn about how each food item eaten during Seder is not only an object of food but also a symbol of the Israelites' imprisonment by the Egyptians and their subsequent freedom.

Some Christians also celebrate Passover, since most Christians believe that Jesus’ last meal prior to his crucifixion was a Passover Seder. In commemoration of the Last Supper, Christians may conduct one Seder on the Thursday prior to Easter, which often coincides with the first date of the more traditional Jewish first day of Passover.

Some Christians also celebrate Passover to commemorate The Last Supper.
Some Christians also celebrate Passover to commemorate The Last Supper.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Easter is for the pagan God Ester. Rabbits signify rapid reproduction and sexual sins. Baby chicks and lambs represent new life in Jesus, our saviour. He is the son of God and came to earth to suffer, bleed and die for our sins. He was tempted as we are, but, he was without sin. The Passover is to remind us that when the angel of death came, any house with blood on the outer door was spared. This represented the blood of Jesus.

God is love. He knew us before He created the world. Also, He was in the ground three days and three nights so it isn't die Friday and arise Sunday. History proves that that year there were two Sabbaths. He actually rose Saturday night. It was the Catholics who changed the Saturday sabbath to Sunday. Check your history and you will find they had no authority to change the Sabbath to Sunday or the Passover to Easter.


The reason Jews celebrate Easter after passover is because of the difference in their calendars. The Jewish biblical calendar day begins at sundown thus a lunar calendar. We christians observe a solar calendar just a basic revelation to the differences. Easter is celebrated on Sunday (Constantine) which does not fall in line with the hebraic calendar.


Jesus came to earth to redeem us. He is our sacrificial Passover Lamb. His blood saves us today, just as the blood sprinkled over the doorposts back then saved them. I thank God today for a Savior who gave His Life for our sins, and rose again in victory! One day soon He is coming back again for those who believe and accept Him into their hearts now. For this reason, I celebrate Passover and Easter. Hallelujah!!!


Christ became our passover. that is why Christians celebrate. all you have to do is read your bible. it will not say easter that is a man made day.

Christ did not say roll eggs around in the yard or go buy a new dress so you will look better than someone next to you. Teach your children what passover means. it is all about the blood of Christ.


It's not astonishing at all, really, that people believe in God. He is after all, the one who created the earth and has been performing miracles all throughout history. Really, think about it, do you really think this beautiful earth was created by a 'big bang'?

Logically, how could the earth provide water, air, animals for us to eat, and more, just out of a 'bang'? It's more than a coincidence that all the things we as humans need to survive just so happen to be flowing naturally on the earth. God's smart.


It's absolutely astonishing that this horror story to this day has such huge impact on our society.

There is no greater history of violence, horror, murder, rape, theft, you name it, than in "religious" teachings. It's no wonder every major war was been in the name of "god".

If we'd all stop believing in spooks and myths and start thinking for ourselves, maybe we would have peace. We'd certainly have a better shot at it than thinking there is an invisible man in the sky who is going to fix everything.


On Easter, Jesus rose from the dead and went to heaven. This is why Easter is celebrated by Christians.


Anon 11060 - The western church celebrates Easter after Passover because Passover is often dated as when the Last Supper took place in Christianity, the day before Jesus was crucified. Also, though Christians are not Jewish, they do study the Old Testament too. Many like to observe this special holiday since it affirms the connection between Jews and Christians.


why does the western church celebrate Easter after passover? it does not make sense.

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