Most Jewish holidays are famously summed up in the following way: They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.
Passover is hardly an exception.
As the story goes, Pharoh, the king of Egypt, declared that all sons born to Jews must be killed. But when Moses was born, his mother couldn’t bear to see him die so she hid him for months and eventually put him in a cradle-like basket and into the river with the hope that someone would find him. He was discovered by Pharoh’s daughter, who helped raise him as a prince. Moses couldn’t stand to see the way the Jewish people were treated, however, and stood up for them, which led to him being banished from Egypt. God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and told him to rescue the Jewish people. So Moses returned to Egypt and demanded the release of the Jewish slaves. When Pharoh refused, God sent 10 plagues to Egypt, the last one of which declared the Angel of Death would kill all the first-born sons in the land, but that he shall pass over the Jewish homes. The Pharoh ultimately relented, but the Jewish people had no time to pack up before escaping Egypt, so they baked bread for their journey without waiting for the dough to rise (what we now know as matzoh). Pharoh sent soldiers after them to kill them, but when the latter arrived at the Red Sea, the waters parted, allowing them to cross to safety and search for the Promised Land.
The story is generally the same everywhere, but the traditions of celebrating across the world are not. Here are some of the more unusual customs:
Photo credits: iStockphoto
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