For many families, springtime might immediately indicate a holiday full of bunnies and chocolate eggs, but don’t forget that Easter is not the only holiday happening this season. Jewish families will be celebrating Passover, a major Jewish holiday that takes place over the course of eight days.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Passover but never explored what it is, or maybe you’re trying to make your family’s Passover traditions more kid-friendly to get your little ones involved and interested. Here we’re going to share the basics of the holiday, plus ways to make it fun for kids.
If your family doesn’t traditionally celebrate Passover, it doesn’t mean you can’t teach your little ones about the holiday. While we wouldn’t expect you to host a full-on Seder, any holiday is a good opportunity to try some new recipes, read stories about different cultures, and pass on some knowledge about it that your children may otherwise not have.
What does Passover celebrate?
Passover is a Jewish holiday that takes place in the spring over the course of eight days. The holiday commemorates the Biblical story of God freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt and is typically celebrated with a Passover Seder on the first and second night of the holiday. Parts of the holiday include discussions of history, freedom, justice, and oppression, including oppressions of the past and may also discuss people being oppressed during current times.
Want to dive deeper in a kid-friendly way? Consider adding Passover-themed books to your kid’s book collection this spring.
What is a Passover Seder?
A Seder is the gathering to read a Haggadah, which tells the story of Passover. There are many Haggadah variations, including ones specifically made for kids. The Seder includes telling the story of Passover, having a meal, singing songs, and may incorporate other family traditions. The basics at the table are a Seder plate, which includes symbolic food elements that represent different parts of the story of Passover, as well as matzo, and wine.
What foods are eaten at Passover?
Every family is different, but typical Passover foods may include matzo (unleavened bread), gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, brisket, and charoset (a mixture of nuts and fruit). It’s traditional that Jews do not eat leavened bread for the eight days of Passover to commemorate the Israelites fleeing their homes without the time to allow their bread to rise. Exploring the foods of different cultures with your kids is a great way to expand their horizons (and palates). Consider cooking Passover-inspired dishes with your kids, whether you’re celebrating with a Seder or not. In addition to the below ideas, matzo pizza is always a crowd pleaser.
Ways to make Passover fun for kids
Admittedly, when I think of Passover, I picture sitting at the dinner table for a very long time before we can actually eat all of the delicious food. This is hard for me in my 30s, so you can only imagine how hard it is for little ones. There are a few things you can do to make the Passover experience more enjoyable for kids (and adults).
First, keep it short and sweet. We all know that the attention span of kids can be limited, so don’t expect them to sit through a multi-hour Seder. Buy or download a kid-friendly Haggadah. Options include 10 or 30 minute Seders.
Involve snacks! Everything is more fun with snacks, so while you won’t be eating the main meal as soon as you sit at the table, it’s always helpful to have fun little treats for everyone to munch on as you go through the Seder.
And finally, involve crafts. Consider buying or making finger puppets and masks to get kids more involved in the experience.
This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated for timeliness.