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Passover 2015: History and food traditions of the Jewish holy week

Each year around the beginning of spring, Jews observe Passover to remember the Israeli’s exodus from ancient Egypt, the History Channel reports

Celebrations and observations span a week, which includes special meals and sacred rituals. 

Passover begins on the 14th day of the Hebrew month, Nisan, or the first month of spring, according to My Jewish Learning.

This year, Passover begins at sundown Friday, April 3 and ends the evening of Saturday, April 11.  

According to the Hebrew Bible, God cast 10 plagues on the world, and Israelites marked door frames with lamb’s blood so angels would notice and  pass over each Jewish household, according to the History Channel. Hence the name Passover.

Food is a central element of Passover celebrations and observations. Leavened breads and food items are taken out of the house before Passover and for the entire week, according to History Channel.

To replace the bread, Jews eat unleavened matzo crackers, which can be found in most grocery stores in a few different flavors.

Abstaining from leavened bread during Passover symbolizes how quickly the Jews left Egypt, with no time to even let their bread rise, according to PBS

The first two nights of the week start with Seder — a sacred spread with specific foods to symbolize the plight and exodus of the Israelites, Food Network reports. Wine accompanies the meal, which includes (among other things):

  • Zeroah: A lamb’s shankbone standing for the ancient sacrifice ritual 
  • Beitzah: Roasted egg symbolizing temple sacrifice 
  • Karpas: Green vegetables to symbolize spring, when Passover is observed 
  • Salt water: Karpas are dipped in the bowl of salt water to stand for the tears of slaves 
Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron

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