What is Passover?

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- What is Passover?

Passover is an eight-day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.

The holiday's name, Pesach, means passing over or protection in Hebrew.

Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival and is celebrated with family gatherings, a festival meal and special foods.

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Those foods include:
1. Matzah or unleavened bread
The Jewish slaves had to leave so quickly there was not enough time for their dough to rise. There are three pieces of matzah on Passover. Two will be eaten during the seder and one spirited away and hidden during the ceremony to be later found as a prize.

2. Maror
These bitter herbs, usually horseradish, symbolize the bitterness of slavery.

3. Charoses
A mixture of fruits, nuts and cinnamon that are a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews in the constructions of buildings as slaves.

4. Beitzah
This roasted egg is a symbol of life and the perpetuation of existence.

5. Karpas

Is a leafy green, usually parsley or celery representing hope and redemption. Karpas is served with a bowl of salt water to represent the tears shed.

6. Zeroah
The roasted lamb shank bone symbolizes the paschal sacrificial offerings.

7. Wine
Four glasses of wine are consumed during the service to represent the four-fold promise of redemption, with a special glass on the left for Elijah the prophet.

Passover is ultimately a celebration of freedom, and the story of the exodus from Egypt is a powerful metaphor that is appreciated by people of other faiths as well.
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