When Is Passover?

  • Passover 2024 will be celebrated from April 22 - April 30.
  • The first Seder will be on April 22 after nightfall, and the second Seder will be on April 23 after nightfall.
  • Passover is celebrated by eating matzah (unleaven bread) and maror (bitter herbs).
  • For the duration of the 8 (or 7 days in Israel) of Passover, which celebrates the emancipation of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery, chametz (leaven) is strictly avoided.

What Is Passover?

The eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan, April 22 - 30, 2024. Passover (Pesach) commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Pesach is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

In Hebrew it is known as Pesach (which means “to pass over”), because G‑d passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve.

Passover History in a Nutshell

As told in the Bible, after many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

In ancient times the Passover observance included the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, which was roasted and eaten at the Seder on the first night of the holiday. This was the case until the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the 1st century.

Click here for the full Passover story.

Click here to learn why the Passover lamb is no longer brought.

How Is Passover Celebrated?

Passover is divided into two parts:

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).

The middle four days are called Chol Hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.

No Chametz

To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.

Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew (and bought back after the holiday).

For more on this topic, see Operation Zero Chametz.

Click here to sell your chametz online.

Matzah

Instead of chametz, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights (see below for more on this), and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.

Click here for more on matzah.

It is ideal to use handmade shmurah matzah, which has been zealously guarded against moisture from the moment of the harvest. You can purchase shmurah matzah here.

The Seders

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.

The focal points of the Seder are:

Read: How to Celebrate Passover

Why Passover Is Important

Passover, celebrating the greatest series of miracles ever experienced in history, is a time to reach above nature to the miraculous. But how are miracles achieved? Let’s take our cue from the matzah. Flat and unflavored, it embodies humility. Through ridding ourselves of inflated egos, we are able to tap into the miraculous well of divine energy we all have within our souls.

Watch this informative video to brush up on the ins and outs of the Passover Seder in simple terms:

Passover FAQ

Passover, also known as Pesach, is the 8-day Jewish holiday celebrated in the early spring that commemorates the Israelites’ emancipation from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Read: How to Celebrate Passover

What is the history of Passover?

After decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, G‑d saw the Israelites’ distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand their release. Despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then wrought upon Egypt 10 devastating plagues. By the last, Pharaoh’s resistance was broken and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land.

Read: The Passover Story in Short

Why is it called Passover?

During the last of the 10 plagues, death of the Egyptian firstborns, G‑d spared the children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday.

Read: 14 Passover Facts & Traditions Every Jew Should Know

How is Passover celebrated?

During Passover, chametz (leavened bread) is strictly avoided, and matzah is consumed instead. The highlight is the Seder, a ritual-packed feast conducted on the first two nights,during which we eat matzah, drink four cups of wine, recline, and recount the story of our freedom. .

Read: 11 Common Passover Misconceptions Debunked

What is chametz?

Chametz refers to any food or drink that contains leavened grain, such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt. It includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. Chametz must be completely removed from possession or sold to a non-Jew before Passover.

Read: What Is Chametz (Chometz)?

How can I sell my chametz?

Ideally one should sell their chametz by contacting their local orthodox Rabbi. If that isn’t an option, you can sell your chametz online.

What is matzah?

Eating matzah—flat, unleavened bread—is a central component of Passover. Handmade shemurah matzah is considered ideal. It is eaten during the Seder and can be consumed throughout the holiday.

Read: What Is Matzo (Matzah)?

What is the Seder?

The Seder is a 15-step ritual-packed feast held on the first two nights of Passover. It involves eating matzah and bitter herbs, drinking four cups of wine or grape juice, and having the children ask the Four Questions. The Haggadah, a liturgy detailing the story of the Exodus, is the guidebook.

Read: What Is a Seder?

Why is Passover important?

Passover commemorates the miraculous liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is a time to reflect on humility, Divine energy, and the potential for miracles.

Read: Why Do Jews in Exile Celebrate Passover?

What are the upcoming Passover dates?

2024: April 22-30

2025: April 12-20

2026: April 1-9

2027: April 21-29

When are the Seder nights for the upcoming years?

The Seder feast is held on the first two nights of Passover (first night only in Israel).

2024: April 22 and 23

2025: April 12 and 13

2026: April 1 and 2

2027: April 21 and 22

Discover: Find a Seder Near You