It describes a Jewish festival which marks the liberation of the Jewish people by God about 3300 years ago. It was this liberation that allowed those of the Jewish faith to cast away the chains of slavery and to be led into salvation and into the creation of their own nation to be led by Moses. In the Torah, the first parts of the Bible, the story of Exodus details the events leading up to this liberation, and the liberation itself. The story of God's ten plagues is common knowledge, and is heavily symbolized and retold in similar variations and through stories even today.
Passover lasts seven or eight days, from dusk on the first day until dusk on the last. It is a time of strict and fascinating ritual. For instance, the Seder. This meal is accompanied with a specific set of tasks and rules that must be observed and completed before the meal can commence and be eaten. It takes place on the first night of the holiday period. The parts of this meal include sanctification, washing, vegetable, breaking, a retelling of the story of Exodus, washing again, specific blessings, bitter herbs, sandwich, dinner, the afikomen, grace, praises, and closing. Each of these represents a specific task and part of the feast.
The name of Passover is in English derived from the story of Exodus itself. During the ten plagues, the Israelites had to slaughter a lamb and mark their doorposts with its blood. When God saw the blood, he passed over the home, knowing of its chosen inhabitants.
Passover is knowing as a time of simplicity, of fasting, and of cleansing. Those in the Jewish culture tend to clean both themselves and the environment in which they live in the days and weeks leading to the holiday period. It's a great time for anyone to refurnish or renovate the home and kitchen, and other cultures can of course take advantage of home improvement or spring sales. With flowers blooming and trees beginning a season of growth, there are also many spring events related to keeping the great outdoors neat and tidy.
No matter your religious beliefs or ethnic background, it's important to learn about the beliefs of others within your community and without. Not only can this become a fulfilling, provocative experience that will help different cultures bridge the gap between one another, but it's also a great source of inspiration and creativity. It's a great way of teaching our children how to share, how to empower one another, how to do good deeds, but most importantly how to foster trust and understanding and unity even between those who are most different from ourselves. Bonds grow stronger through knowledge and understanding, and rivalries grow weaker. Empathy is a powerful weapon, and it's time we use it to better ourselves and our world!