Passover is one of the most momentous festivals celebrated by the Jews. The festival is observed with much pomp and glory throughout the world. Celebrated on the 15th of the first Hebrew month of Nisan, the date corresponds in March or April as per the Gregorian calendar. The weeklong Passover holiday is characterized by different religious rituals and customs. The terms used during the entire course of Passover right from the food to the blessings to the story are in the Hebrew language. Hence, to know more about the holy festival of Passover, you should be well versed with the terms. Since Passover is a special festival, the language associated with it i.e., Hebrew is widely used to describe the various rituals, traditions, the foods in Seder and the lyrics of the songs and prayers. Read this article to get well versed with different common terms used on Passover.
Afikoman is an Aramaic word meaning 'dessert'. The largest of the three pieces served at Seder meal is called Afikoman. This piece is hidden in the house. At the end of the meal, the kids search around the house for this piece and upon finding it, share it with the entire group.
Baytzah is a hard-boiled egg that is served at the Seder meal on the Seder plate. It symbolizes the regular festival sacrifice made in the days of the Temple. Since then, baytzah has become symbolic of the loss of the two temples and hence, is consumed as a food of mourning.
The bedikat chametz signifies finding any leavened grain products in the house on the night before the Passover Seder. This is known as 'Jewish Spring Cleaning' that is undertaken by all Jews.
Chametz means leavened or forbidden food containing grains like wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt, which is not consumed during the Passover season. As per the Torah, neither chametz nor any fermented sourdough, used to make another dough ferment, should be visible in the home boundaries during the Passover week.
Charoset is a delicious mixture of apples, cinnamon, nuts, almonds, wine, and other ingredients that is placed on the Seder plate. It is a reminder of the mortar that the Israelites used for building structures for the Pharaohs.
The Seder plate also contains a bitter vegetable such as lettuce or celery, known as chazeret. The chazeret is included as a reminder of the Israeli slaves that experienced bitter lives.
Elijah was a Biblical prophet who lived during the times of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He challenged the might of the wicked king and his prophets. The Jews believe that Elijah did not die; rather he ascended to the heaven in a flaming chariot. On the occasion of Passover, a special cup of wine is filled and drunk to honor Eliyahu Ha-Navi or "Elijah the Prophet".
Exodus refers to leaving of a great number of people. In Passover, the term exodus is used for referring the escape of the Jewish people from the slavery of the cruel Egyptians.
Haggadah is a Hebrew word, which means 'story', or 'telling'. It is the holy book of the Jews that is used for narrating the Passover events at the Seder meal. It includes blessings, questions and answers, the story of exodus, and songs.
Karpas refers to a vegetable, such as parsley or potato, which forms a part of the Seder plate. It is consumed after dipping in salt water, thereby signifying the tears shed by the Jewish ancestors in Egypt.
Kiddush is a Hebrew word that denotes 'sanctification'. It is a special ritual performed at Shabbat and Jewish holiday meals by reciting a blessing over wine.
Maror represents bitter herbs, usually horseradish, which is placed on the Seder plate. Traditionally, maror signifies the bitterness that the Israeli forefathers had to endure during their enslavement in Egypt.
Flat, unleavened bread, matzah is eaten by the Jews during the entire week of Passover. It reminds one of the Exodus of the Jewish slaves from Egypt. The Jews did not have enough time to wait for the bread dough to rise. Hence, they prepared matzah from the unleavened dough and consumed.
Seder typically means 'order' and symbolizes the dinner had by the Jews on the first two days of Passover. This Jewish ritual includes reciting blessings, narrating stories of Exodus, singing songs, and eating ritual food and festive meal in a particular order.
Zeroa refers to a shank bone or neck of poultry that is roasted and served on the Seder plate. Zeroa is a symbol of the mighty hand of God. Also, it represents the Paschal lamb that was offered as the Passover sacrifice during the Temple days.
Passover glossary helps you understand the common Passover terms. Check out the glossary to learn more about this.