Passover, or Pesach (פֶּסַח) or Chag Ha’Aviv (literally- the spring holiday), starts at sunset tomorrow night (well, technically it starts on the evening of the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, so it’s not a March holiday as much as a spring holiday).
An extremely condensed history of Passover:
Passover 2021 will last eight days starting at sundown on March 27, 2021, to sundown on April 4, 2021. It’s a celebration born of redemption from slavery, in this case, the ancient Israelites being released after 400 years of servitude to the Egyptians. It’s a dramatic story born of famine, peaking with a cruel pharaoh and enslavement of a people, and culminating with 10 plagues, the story of Moses and a 40-year trek through the Sinai desert (and you thought your last family vacation was endless).
And the briefest of information on Passover rituals:
Passover is one of the biggest days on the Jewish calendar with even non-observant Jews generally taking part in two seders, or ritual meals on the first two nights of the holiday (only one in Israel). It’s also a holiday during which time unleavened foods are banned. Also, gifts are often given, to your hosts, to the kids who manage to stay up late for the seder, to anyone who steals the afikomen (a Greek word for dessert. In this case referring to a piece of matzoh hidden at the beginning of the meal. The finder is entitled to ask for the gift of their choice). There’s also wine. Lots and lots of wine – four cups to be exact. While we Jews aren’t necessarily teetotalers, other than a sip or two on Shabbat and the revelry of Purim, we don’t drink an awful lot either. This night is definitely different than all others.
5 Passover gift ideas
While most of us will still be in a modified pandemic bubble, some will be celebrating with family or friends. Since it’s customary to bring a gift for your hosts, here are five ideas
- Wine, of course: You should check with your host if they strictly drink kosher wine, which had a bad reputation but has evolved in recent years. So much so that Bartenura’s familiar blue bottle containing sweet Moscato wine has become coveted by rappers and rabbis alike. ($12.99, pretty much everywhere wine and spirits are sold).
- My book, Ancient Prayer: Channeling Your Faith 365 Days of the Year: Even though I spend much of my days promoting the work of others in my articles or behind the scenes in my marketing work, I don’t spend much time promoting my own works. I should though. It’s a beautiful book. It’s also a really great gift for this time of year since there are anecdotes about Passover and all the Jewish holidays, and so much more. (About $10.68 on Amazon, or drop me a note if you’d like an autographed copy).
- A gorgeous seder plate: The centerpiece of every seder is the seder plate or ke’arah, which contains highly symbolic ceremonial foods. On most seder plates, you’ll find matzoh, a shank bone (apologies to my vegan friends), bitter herbs (not that kind, silly), a hard-boiled egg, charoset (an apple, walnut, wine-based dish), and a karpas vegetable. Also, some saltwater. It’s also traditional to make each holiday as beautiful as possible. This gorgeous seder plate by Apeloig does just that. ($360.00, apeloigcollection.com).
A clever mask: There are so many legends and lore connected to Passover that it’s hard to condense into a single post, which is why I didn’t even bother trying! That said, there’s a bit of liturgy about four sons, meant to symbolize (I told you it was a symbolic holiday) the four personality types within the faith. This mask allows them to lay claim to the most coveted title. ($12.00, Etsy.com).
- A CBD Pillow: Part of the (long) seder service involves reclining comfortably on your chair and leaning left and using a comfy pillow. I’m digging this gel memory foam pillow, with a pillowcase infused with millions of microcapsules filled with the highest quality CBD. It’s meant to promote deeper sleep and relaxation. I’ve been testing one out and haven’t really noticed anything yet, but I’ll keep you posted if that changes. ($99, CBDPillow.com)