When Is Passover 2023? Everything You Need to Know About the Spring Celebration
As we say good-bye to winter wear for a while and see color bloom around us, a celebration reaching back many centuries arrives. Passover, or Pesach, holds deep significance in Judaism.
Its eight days commemorate the Israelites' liberation and subsequent exodus from slavery in Egypt. The night before it began God had "passed over" the Israelites' door frames marked in lambs' blood to protect their first born sons while the 10th plague brought death to all other first borns in Egypt. Today, 3,000 years later, those who practice Passover attend a meal ritual known as Seder in homes, avoiding leaven, and retell that Exodus story.
But when does Passover take place? How long is it? How does it relate to Easter? And how else is it celebrated today? Here's everything you need to know about Passover 2023 and how it came to be.
When is Passover in 2023?
This year, Passover begins at sundown on April 5 and ends at sundown on April 13. In 2024 it will start sundown on April 22 and ends at sundown on April 30. Each year it takes place during Nissan (or Nisan)—the Hebrew month mandated by the Torah to occur in spring.
Like Easter, Passover is determined by the Jewish calendar, which is lunar. Because the Jewish calendar isn’t the same length as the solar year on the Gregorian calendar (the calendar most widely used today), Passover and other Jewish holidays shift every year. But, one thing does remain consistent—Passover always falls on a full moon in the spring. It follows a day in spring known as the vernal equinox, when night and day are the same lengths.
Note that the Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night beforehand and concludes at nightfall. All holiday observances start at sundown on the secular dates listed, meaning the following day is the first full day of the holiday.
What dates are you allowed to work during Passover?
There are several key dates during Passover earmarked as no-work-allowed days: the first two days of Passover when the Seder feast is held and the final days before sunset. Between these dates is the four-day intermediate period known as Chol Hamoed, where work is allowed with some restrictions.
How long does Passover last?
Beginning on the evening preceding 15 Nissan, Passover lasts for eight days in the Diaspora (the population of Jews living outside Israel) and seven days in Israel.
Why do the two areas differ? It’s a mix of how the Hebrew calendar determines dates and tradition. The Torah, the overall body of Jewish religious teachings containing the Five Books of Moses, specifies that Passover lasts seven days. However, according to chabad.org, in ancient times, the beginning of a new month was determined by The Sanhedrin’s (ancient Jewish court system) official declaration of the new moon.
Without modern technology, you can imagine getting the word to anyone outside of Israel took a lot longer than sending a text. To prepare for this margin of error of not knowing exactly when a month would start and therefore when to start observing holidays, these communities practiced two days of each Jewish holiday. Even though the calendar became mathematically fixed, today the Jewish community outside of Israel continues to celebrate Passover for the extra day out of tradition.
How can I wish someone well on this holiday?
Whether you’re celebrating Passover or know someone who is, it’s perfectly acceptable to wish them a “happy Passover.” Other greetings might include wishing an individual or family a “kosher and joyous Passover,” “happy Pesach,” or “Chag sameach” (happy festival).
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