Customs and Traditions of Passover and Easter Worldwide

Passover Customs: Friday, April 15, 2022

With millions of Jews worldwide celebrating Passover for the next eight days (seven days in Israel), it’s interesting to note the various seder customs as they developed in the countries in which Jews are present.

Having just completed my first set of Hebrew lessons (a fancy way of saying I now know the Hebrew aleph bet like any kindergartner in Israel!), my current favorite is the practice in Syria of breaking the matzah into pieces that shape Hebrew letters and numbers of significance. I recognize them!

From our friends at Jewishfied:

Syria – Matzah broken into the shape of Hebrew letters

The custom of breaking the middle matzah on the seder table into pieces (known as yachatz) can sometimes take on Kabbalistic meaning. Matzah broken into the shape of the Hebrew letters “daled” and “vav” correspond to numbers, which in turn add up to 10, representing the 10 holy emanations of G-d. Jews from North Africa, including Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya, break the matzah into the shape of the Hebrew letter “hey,” which corresponds to the number 5.

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Easter Traditions: Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter, the principal festival of the Christian church, which celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion, is a joyous occasion immediately following the stricter Lenten period, celebrated in many and varied customs throughout the world.

Once again, I point to a personal favorite custom, this time in Italy, given my Italian heritage! (Btw, not only in Florence is this noisy welcome to Easter experienced but also in my family home town outside of Monte Cassino- 30 minutes south of Rome.)

From the good people at Reader’s Digest:

Italy: Fireworks explosion

You might need a pair of earmuffs if you’re in Florence, Italy, on Easter Sunday. The holiday starts off with a literal bang as locals gather to celebrate the 350-year-old Easter tradition of Scoppio del Carro, or “Explosion of the Cart.” A pair of oxen adorned in garlands pull a three-storey high wagon filled with fireworks through the streets to the front of the cathedral, accompanied by drummers, flag throwers and people in historical costumes. During Easter mass, the Archbishop of Florence lights a fuse that sends a dove-shaped rocket down a wire to cart, igniting a vibrant firework show. This extravagant custom dates back to the First Crusade and is meant to ensure a good harvest.

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My best wishes to all who celebrate Passover and or Easter for a happy, joyful and peaceful holiday. – Lina

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