Passover Traditions from Around the World
The holiday of Passover is usually celebrated with family and friends. More so than any other holiday, families unite from near and far for the Seders as much to be together as to commemorate freedom. This year, we really will be asking, Ma Nishtana…? Why is this night different from all others?
As we know this year, given the COVID-19 pandemic all gatherings will be limited to immediate family. But in the spirit of connecting our local Jewish community to the global one we are sharing with you a few Passover traditions from around the world.
In Afghanistan, Jews created the tradition of gently whipping themselves with scallions as a symbol of the Egyptian slave drivers’ whips used against the Israelites.
In the British territory of Gibraltar, the tiny island off the coast of Spain, Jews actually mix the dust of bricks into their Charoset, a symbol of the mortar used to hold together the brick walls the Jews built in Egypt.
The “Seder on Top of the World” one of the largest known Passover Seders in the world, is held yearly in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lubavitch rabbis reach the Chabad house in Nepal to arrange for the advent of thousands of Jewish backpackers. They bring a lot of matzah, Pesach food items and Haggadahs, and have a huge Seder.
Indian Jews prepare molagachi (mahogany chicken with black pepper), ellegal (spice-rubbed fish in cool herb salsa), masalachi (mutton braised with garlic and coriander) and appam (coconut crepes with date sauce). “Pesach work,” as it is called in Cochin, India begins as soon as Chanukah ends. The Cochin community, believes that if a Jewish woman makes even the slightest mistake in the Passover preparation during the 100 days before the actual Seder, then the lives of her husband and her children will be endangered. *
Ethiopian Jews break all of their old dishes and cooking utensils before purchasing new ones; an act that symbolizes a break from the past and hence, a fresh start into a new life. They decorate their Seder table with unique Ethiopian Jewish folk crafts brought all the way from Israel. Women in northern Israel, Afula, make hand-embroidered Matza covers, table runners, mezuzahs and other decorations. *
Although, Passover 5780 will be unusual, these challenging times don’t strip it of its significance. Our Seders may be smaller this year, but we will still commemorate our Exodus from Egypt because Passover is a fundamental part of our lives. It’s rooted into our identity and this year more than ever it will provide us with spiritual sustenance.
We’d love to hear what your Passover traditions are and share them with our members. We invite and encourage you to send them to us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world may be a different right now, but near or far, Passover will arrive; it will be celebrated and we wish you all a healthy and happy Passover.