Pesach is a Hebrew word which means Jewish Easter. Pesach is also known by the name "Passover" in English, Pessah in French and Pesaj in Spanish. Pesach in Hebrew means to pass over or jump over. Originally Pesach or Passover was celebrated by Jews as two distinct festivals called Chag ha-Pesach, the "Festival of the Pesach" and Chag ha-Matzot, the "Festival of the Unleavened Bread" which had no relevance to historical exodus story. The festivals were celebrated to mark the arrival of spring season that involved ritual sacrifice of lamb. However, later on following the historical events of exodus, these two festivals were merged together to form present day Pesach festival which signifies the liberation from slavery under the Egyptian rule. The Passover came to mean 10th plague in which the Angel of Death passed over Hebrew households upon seeing the blood of the lamb and killed the first born son of the Egyptians.
Different Names For Pesach
Pesach is derived from the ancient Hebrew word "Posach", which means to "skip over" or "pass over". Pesach signifies the end of oppression and slavery under the Egyptian Pharaoh some 3000 years ago. Pesach festival is also known by different names as follows:
Chag Ha-Pesach or Hag Ha-Pesach
Chag ha-Pesach is also known as the Festival of the Pesach. This festival was celebrated by the Jews even before the events of exodus to welcome the arrival of the spring season. A "paschal" or "Pesach" lamb was sacrificed to God as token of gratitude for the renewal of springtime.
Chag Ha-Matzot Or Hag Ha-Matzot
Chag Ha-Matzot is also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread. According to the book of Exodus, the Israelis hastily departed from the tyranny of Egyptian ruler Ramses II that they could not wait for bread to leaven it. So to observe the festive occasion, no leaven bread is eaten during the festival. The unleavened bread eaten during Passover festival is also known by the name matzah.
Chag Ha-Cheirut Or Hag Ha-Cheirut
Chag Ha-Cheirut is also known as festival of Freedom or Redemption. This festival recounts the entire journey of Jews attaining freedom and redemption from oppression and slavery under the Egyptians.
Chag Ha-Aviv Or Hag Ha-Aviv Or Zeman Cherutenu
Chag Ha-Aviv is also called as the Festival of Spring or the Season of Our Liberation. This festival recounts the arrival of the Hebrews from Egypt to Cannan or Palestine during spring season marking the new phase of Jewish cultural life.
Pesach Or Passover
The Pesach name came from the above four varied Passover names. These varied Pesach names collectively represent the transition of the Hebrews from being slaves under the Egyptians to ultimately being freed from oppression and slavery. The name Passover or Pesach signifies the Jews' liberation from Egyptians rule, attainment of freedom from bondage and profound peace of living independently in Canaan.
Pesach is being observed by Jewish community every year to commemorate Israel's freedom from slavery under the Egyptians. A seven day festival which begins on 15th day of Nisan month in Jewish calendar is one of the three important Jewish festivals, the two other festivals being Sukkot and Shavu'ot.
Pesach or Passover festival today is celebrated by Jews all across the world by feasting on unleavened bread and narrating the story of exodus to children over the Seder meal. The celebration is often marked with family get together, feasting on Seder meal and merriment.