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6 Language Facts About Passover

6 Language Facts About Passover

In the Christian tradition, today is Maundy Thursday, when Christians remember the last Passover supper Christ shared with his disciples before his crucifixion. Tomorrow marks the beginning of Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jews’ release from Egyptian slavery as recorded in the Old Testament’s book of Exodus. As Holy Week plays out around the world, we share here 6 language facts related to Passover.

A traditional Seder meal
  1. The Hebrew word for Passover is pesach.
  2. Pascua, the Spanish word for Easter, derives from the Hebrew word pesah, referring to the Jewish Passover. Pascua did not always refer to the Christian holiday. Today it can refer to religious holidays other than Easter.
  3. The word “table,” in Hebrew, is shulchan. The word is a combination of shel and chen, which, when put together, mean “a place of kindness” or “a place of grace.”
  4. Traditionally, Jews mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder meal. The word “Seder” literally means “order” or “arrangement.” A traditional Seder meal consists of 6 foods that carry symbolic significance honoring various parts of the Exodus story. For example, vegetables dipped into saltwater represent tears the Jews shed during their slavery in Egypt. Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) represent the difficult years of bondage the Jews encountered in Egypt.
  5. Charoset is a sweet paste that is commonly part of a Seder meal. In Gibraltar, this wine is made from various fruits, spices and nuts. As part of a traditional Seder, charoset represents the mortar the Jews used to bond bricks together as part of their rigorous work as slaves. In Gibraltar, families reportedly add actual brick dust to the paste.
  6. The word “Maundy” stems from the Latin mandatum, which means “command.” Jesus knew the Passover supper would be the last time he could instruct his disciples on how to live and how to treat others. The final “command” he gave them? Love one another.

What will stick with you this holiday weekend as you gather for special meals, prepare Easter baskets, reflect on life? Will you participate in a Seder meal? Cook a ham? Show kindness across a kitchen or dining room table? What traditions do you cherish at this time of year?


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