What Is Passover?
How to Celebrate Passover at Home
By Cara J. Stevens
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Follow these simple and fun steps to get the whole family involved in the Passover holiday.
Clear out the chametz
Typically all chametz, or leavened food, is removed from the home before beginning any food preparation for the holiday. Many families have special dishes, glasses, silverware, serving plates and cooking utensils reserved only for Passover.
Conduct a search for chametz the night before Passover
Place bread or cookies in sealed plastic bags around the house. Send each family member around the house to search for the bags with a flashlight. When all bags have been found, remove them from the house by giving them to a neighbor. Gather any unopened chametz in your house and donate it to a local food bank. You can even create a holiday bedikat chametz.
Encourage inquisitive questions
During Passover children are encouraged to learn as much about the holiday as possible. Traditionally during Seder dinner, the youngest child asks "The Four Questions," which are geared at answering the question of "Why is this night different from all other nights?"
"The Four Questions" are as follows:
- Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once, but on this night we dip them twice?
- Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either leavened bread or matzah, but on this night we eat only matzah?
- Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?
- Why is it that on all other nights we dine either sitting upright, but on this night we all recline/lean?
These questions are geared and opening a dialogue to tell the story of the exodus for Egypt (which can be found in the Haggadah) and the holiday's modern-day significance.
Search for/Hide the Afikomen
At the beginning of the Seder, the middle matzah is broken in half. The larger half is called the "Afikomen" (meaning “dessert” in Aramaic). When the leader of the Seder gets up to wash his or her hands, the children hide the Afikomen. At the end of the Seder, the leader pretends to notice the Afikomen is missing. The leader must bargain with the children to return the Afikomen so the Seder can be concluded. Often, the leader offers prizes of coins or small presents for the safe return of the Afikomen. The kids can even create their own Afikomen bag.
Some families vary the game and the leader hides the Afikomen. The child who finds it gets the largest reward, but everyone who participates gets a prize.
Either way, the search for the Afikomen keeps the children involved and awake until the conclusion of the service.