I’m writing this as the chicken soup is simmering on top of the stove; Friday evening is the beginning of the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Pesah.
Passover is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews’ liberation from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation. It was the beginning of their wandering for 40 years in the desert. “What took them so long?” you ask. They wandered until the generation that had lived as slaves died; it was important that people who had never known the burden of slavery to start their new society.
In remembrance of the hardships their ancestors faced in slavery, the Jewish people hold a feast called the ‘Seder' on the first night of Passover.
The Passover Seder is one of the rituals that has survived the longest over thousands of years. In fact, it is a custom that has been practiced ever since the Hebrews were freed from slavery in 1200s BC!
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Easter is also celebrated at this time, at the beginning of Spring, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. Similar to Passover, Easter is the oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
Both holidays acknowledge the passing of an extremely difficult time or occurrence, and have ritual symbols, special foods, meals and family and community gatherings to celebrate rebirth.
Indeed, Spring is a time of rebirth. We have all been hibernating during the cold weather of winter. In my practice, I notice much more sadness, depression and lack of motivation starting around the end of October and lasting through April. This is often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, but I think it is also related to the Earth being in a darker place.
During Passover, Jews don’t eat bread or products made with leavening. This symbolizes how they didn’t have time to let the bread rise in their rush to escape slavery. I don’t eat gluten or bread, so I take this opportunity to do a cleanse or fast; drinking lots of freshly made vegetable juices and taking certain supplements and herbs to promote cleansing. Spring is an excellent time to do a cleanse and I’ve put all my recommendations into a Healing Mini-Detox.
When I sit down to celebrate, I can’t help but to take a moment to think about my loved ones who are no longer here. I cook many of my mother’s recipes for the Passover Seder meal, and I remember having Seder at my relatives’ houses all those years as a child. It is sad that they are no longer here with us, but maintaining the ritual of the celebration continues the tradition of renewal and life.
Another aspect of the Passover ritual is to do a thorough clean of your pantry, making sure there are no crumbs of breads, cereals or crackers. Last night I cleaned out my pantry and refrigerator. I was surprised to find some vegetables in the vegetable bin and other leftover items in the refrigerator that had “seen better days” and they immediately went into the compost bin. There is something extremely satisfying to walk into a freshly cleaned kitchen and scrubbed refrigerator!
No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope you are able to gather with family, friends, community and enjoy the ritual and meaning of the day!
Wishing you joy for the Spring Holidays,