Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a Jewish holiday dating back to Biblical times, and is the first of the three annual pilgrimages that Jews had to make to the Temple when it existed and where they offered sacrifices. Passover lasts seven days and begins on the 15th of the Jewish month of Nisan. Jews are prohibited to work on the first and last days.
Passover recalls the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and is also known as the Festival of Freedom. The name of the festival comes from the Hebrew root pasach which means “to pass over”, because the Jews marked the lintels of their houses in Egypt with a sign so that the plague of the death of the firstborn “passed over” their houses, just as it’s written in the Book of Exodus. The last day of Pesach recalls the miracle of the Israelites’ crossing the Red Sea.
The main precept to fulfill during this feast is not to eat any type of fermented food with yeast. It is during this holiday that unleavened bread (matzah in Hebrew). The first night of the feast celebrates the Passover Seder (family meal) where the Agada or Passover tale is read while the family eats unleavened bread and maror (bitter herbs), and drinks four glasses of wine.
The values of this festival are universal ones. The story of the departure from Egypt and liberation from slavery are at the center of the feast. It is one of the most important holidays in Judaism because of all that it represents.
Por otra parte, resulta interesante para los cristianos conocer esta fiesta, pues la Institución de la Eucaristía en la Ultima Cena del Señor fue precisamente una cena de Pésaj (y este año 2018 se da la coincidencia de que la fiesta de Pésaj es un sábado, igual que sucedió en la Ultima Pascua del Señor). No hay que olvidar que la liturgia de la Eucaristía está llena de recuerdos de la ceremonia de Pésaj, pues de allí se tomaron muchas oraciones, como por ejemplo las del ofertorio: “Bendito eres Tú, Adonai, nuestro Dios, Rey del universo, que crea el fruto de la vid. Bendito eres Tú, Adonai, nuestro Dios, Rey del universo…”
Also, it is also interesting for Christians to know about this feast since the Institution of the Eucharist in the Last Supper was actually duringPassover (and, coincidentally, this 2018, Passover will take place during a Saturday, just like it did with our Lord). We must not forget that the liturgy of the Eucharist is filled with traditions od the Passover ceremony and that many prayers were taken from it, such as the one in the Offertory: “Blessed are You, Adonai (Lord), our God, King of the universe…”