Religious ceremonies and merriment mark the Passover celebrations in Canada. Explore the article to know about Canadian traditions of Pesach.

Passover in Canada

Passover is one of the most prominent festivals of the Jews and is celebrated with great vigor and devotion across the globe. According to biblical records, this holy festival of the Jews is observed to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites from the clutches of slavery of the Egyptians. The festival is also known as Pesah, Pesach or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover season begins on the 15th day of the Nisan month of the Hebrew calendar corresponding to the dates in March or April in the Gregorian calendar. The weeklong festival witnesses the observance of various traditions and customs, which the festival has always been associated with. With no exceptions, the Passover in Canada is celebrated following similar customs across eight days, though the week is not a declared holiday. Nonetheless, the spirit of the festival remains unabated. Read on to know more about Canadian traditions of Pesach.

Passover Celebrations In Canada
The Arrival Of The Jews In Canada
With the commencement of the pogroms of Russia in the 1880s that persisted through the anti-Semitic periods of the early 20th century, millions of Jews were compelled to flee to Pale of Settlement and other areas of Eastern Europe for the West. Even though it was the United States that received the overwhelming majority of these immigrants, Canada was also a much preferred destination due to Government of Canada and Canadian Pacific Railway efforts to develop Canada after Confederation. Between 1880 and 1930, the Jewish population of Canada grew to over 155,000. According to the census of Montreal until 1901, only 6861 Jews were residents. Today, the Jewish community in Canada consists of both practicing Jews and those who do not prefer to practice their religion. Nearly all Jews in Canada speak one of the two official languages, although most speak English over French. However, a sharp distinction exists between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi community in Quebec. Where the former overwhelmingly speak English, the latter prefer to speak in French. Today, Canada has the fourth largest population of Jewish community in the world, less than that of the United States, Israel or France, but more than both Russia and the United Kingdom.

The Celebrations
  • Passover is celebrated across eight days in Canada. The first day of Passover is observed with great devotion and spirituality. People who cannot afford to organize Passover observances are invited by their acquaintances for the Seder meal or for the entire Passover holiday. Although Passover is not a public holiday in Canada, most of the Jewish businesses and organizations remain close during the festivities. While most of the Jewish people prefer to celebrate Passover with family and friends, there are some who silently ride down to hotels or resorts for the Passover vacation, as they look for the place to meet the cleanliness and food purity standards required as per the Jewish rituals.
  • People celebrating Passover in hotels or resorts or on a ship cruise, merge Seder traditions with other activities, thereby making the celebrations even more pleasant and delightful. They go for popular and adventurous activities, such as skiing in the Canadian mountains or wondering around admiring the natural beauty of Canada. However, there are some Jewish who like to rather utilize the festival in studying the Jewish law and culture under a supervised rabbi. The last day of Passover in Canada is marked as the end of the holiday amongst greater festivities and merrymakings.
  • Most of the Jewish people desire sticking to the Sabbath observances during the last of the Passover holiday. Some Canadian Jews take leaves from their work to celebrate this day. Just like the Seder meal that is taken on the first day of Passover, the Canadian Jews eat a ceremonial Seder meal on the last day as well. The story of the Jews being freed from Egypt is narrated while savoring the various symbolic foods as per the customs. The unleavened bread is replaced with ordinary bread during this meal, thereby bringing the occasion to an end. After-dinner blessings are recited and traditional songs are sung thereafter.
Quite evidently, the Passover in Canada is celebrated with equal zeal and devotion by the Jewish community living there as any other place in the world.