Kempinski Blog Article
One of the world's oldest religious traditions, the Jewish celebration of Passover dates back to the 3,000 year-old Jewish state and the biblical story of Moses, the Pharaoh and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Today, the festival is celebrated everywhere by Jewish people across the world - over the eight days of Passover – starting after sunset on April 10th and ending on April 18th – and given Judaism's multi-ethnic, international character, there are a wide range of traditions followed across the world during this period.
As part of the communal Passover Seder meal, many families around the world dine on charoset, a chunky paste made from ingredients such as apples, dates and walnuts.
The food represents the mortar used by the Jews while enslaved in Egypt, and in Gibraltar, families take this rather literally, adding a pinch of brick dust to the mixture! The person who leads the Seder then circles the table three times, chanting "we left Egypt in a hurry", tapping the top of the guests' heads with the Seder plate – the focal point of the celebration.
Inclusiveness in America
Beginning in the 1980s, leading Jewish feminist Susannah Heschel introduced the tradition of placing an orange in the centre of the Seder plate as a way of expressing the need to include the Jewish LGBT community in the Passover celebration, something that traditionally has not been the case. This tradition is still followed today by Jewish families across the USA.
In the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria, Gerer Hasidic Jews re-enact the crossing of the Red Sea, pouring water on the floor of their homes and wearing their coats as they recite the names of the towns and regions they will likely have to visit during the coming year. They then thank God for helping them reach these destinations safely.
Whipped by spring onions
Jews from Afghanistan and Iran also have a literal take on the Passover story. As the traditional holiday song Dayenu is sung by the group taking Seder, they lightly hit each other with spring onions, thereby symbolising Jewish Egyptian slaves being whipped by their overseers in the biblical tale.
Some members of the Ethiopian Jewish community commemorate Passover by breaking all of the earthenware dishes they use, crafting a new set in order to symbolise a break with the past and a fresh new beginning, a clear principle of the biblical story.
Wherever in the world you are travelling with Kempinski over the Passover season, our staff will help you get the most out of the festival – simply contact us and we will try to help.