I want to start off by being sure you see this link to download my Passover stuff:
I’ve had several women ask me lately how to do Passover, so I’ve decided to just write down how I did Passover last year, in 2017. I plan to do it mostly the same this year.
First, please know that I’m so new to all of this still. I’m looking forward to only my fifth Passover meal this year, so I’ve only done four! What I’m trying to say is, I don’t feel like I’m an expert at all. Please search the scriptures yourself and run your ideas and questions by your husbands if you’re married. But if you just want to read how I do Passover, then read on and I hope it’s helpful! Leave comments at the end with your ideas, too!
The Biblical Commands
First, let’s review the Biblical commands for doing the Passover meal. Yehovah has given us very few commands regarding Passover, and they are not at all difficult. I highly recommend downloading this Bible study by my friend, Anne Elliott (who also showed me how to do Passover in her own home.) Click here to download it now for free. In it, you’ll find all the Scripture references for the Biblical commands. See Exodus 12, 34, Leviticus 23, Numbers 9, 28, 33, Deuteronomy 16, Joshua 5, 2 Kings 22, 23, 2 Chronicles 35, 2 Chronicles 30, Ezra 6, Matthew 26, Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 5, 11.
Here’s a very quick recap of the Biblical commands that we can do today for Passover:
- It’s only for those in covenant with Yehovah.
- Remove leaven from the home first.
- Eat the Passover meal on the 14th day at twilight. (Some call this the beginning of the 15th day. It’s at sunset.)
- Eat only unleavened bread at the meal.
- It is to teach the children.
- Tell the story of the Exodus.
- Eat bitter herbs.
- Drink wine (or grape juice).
- Remember the redemption and salvation given to us by Yeshua’s death with the bread and the wine.
I truly don’t have time to go into theology of why I do or believe how to do things at Passover. Many have written very thoughtful posts on these subjects. I’m going to try to keep this post strictly practical about how I do these things.
Now, I’m going to start explaining item by item. Please remember that I do all of the Biblical commands listed above. But I also do a lot of other things in my Passover that are not commanded. All you need or have to do are the Biblical commands. Beyond those, you have freedom to do whatever you want for Passover as long as it doesn’t break some other Torah command. So be creative and invent your own traditions! Most of what I’m going to talk about is just tradition, because the Biblical commands are so few and simple.
I made my own Haggadah. A Haggadah is the booklet that contains all the Passover Seder readings. It’s like a program. I started with one someone else made, then changed several parts to make it how I wanted. I removed some parts and added some parts. You can do this, too! You have a lot of freedom with your Seder! I’ll explain more about my seder later in this post. Keep reading. You can download my Haggadah here and alter it to suit your needs.!
To obey the first command, that the Passover is only to be eaten by those in covenant with Yehovah, I simply only invite believers to my home for Passover. Passover is to me, now, much like what Communion was when I was in the mainstream church. (Honestly, Paul was talking about Passover in those “communion’ passages.) Paul and Torah remind us that if our heart is not right with the Father and we are not in covenant with Him, that we will die if we partake in the bread and cup. So, I only invite those who are in covenant so far as I know. At a certain point, I remind my guests to skip the bread and wine if they have heart issues that they need to work out.
One thing we do about two weeks before Passover, is we put up a red cloth over our doorway to remind us of the first Passover and the blood of Yeshua. Click here to read a blog post and see pictures of it.
I do Passover in my home. I like the intimacy, and I see a pattern for doing it in the home in Scripture. But Yeshua rented a room, so you can, too, if you want. But doing Passover in my small home, however, means that I can only invite a couple of families each year, because I have a smallish home. I imagine some of you have the same dilemma, and also face the struggle that more people want to come, and some want to be invited year after year, but you just can’t fit them all. My friend Anne has a solution for this, to try to keep it fair, and I’ve adopted her solution as well, so this is what I tell my guests each Passover,
“I’m so glad to welcome you to partake in this Passover meal with my family and me. I want you to see how I do it tonight and ask questions and learn as much as you can. But next year, I won’t invite you back. Rather, I want you to have your own Passover in your home with your own personal family. The next year invite others to your home to see, partake and learn like you are this year. That way, I can keep inviting other new people, and so can you, and together, we can keep reaching more believers and show them how to do Passover, like a ripple effect.”
I say a lot more than that, but that’s the jist of it. Many people get really nervous about doing it, but they often just need encouragement. So, to make it simple, here’s my recommendation: Do your first Passover with just your immediate family. Do your next with others you’ve invited to your home, and so on and so on.
Get the Matazh
Plan ahead of where you’ll get your matzah, or plan to make your own. I order it here, on Amazon. But order early, because it can take a while to arrive. Some grocery stores carry it, too. I order about three or four pieces per person, but when I have lots of kids coming, I order lots extra. The Seder is long, and they get hungry, so I let them munch on it during the whole Seder. Any leftovers will get eaten during the rest of the Feast. Click here for a great recipe to make your own.
Spring Cleaning & Removing Leaven
Next, I’ll mention that in the days leading up to Passover, I deep clean my home. The purpose is to remove all the leaven. I look for products that have yeast in them. But it ends up that my home is sparkly clean. As my kids and I clean, we talk about how Paul tells us that leaven reminds us of sin, and we need to spend these preparation days searching out the sin in our own hearts before we come to our Lord’s table at the Passover meal. Of course, any discussion of sin leads to a discussion of the Gospel of grace and Yeshua’s sacrifice that enables us to be in covenant with Yehovah despite our sin that we can never fully get rid of, just as we can never fully get rid of the leaven in our home. The toaster is a great Gospel discussion starter this time of year!
And yes, removing leaven means that I throw out a lot of food. Oh, well. It’s a small price to pay in obedience out of love. He’s bigger than my grocery bill, so I don’t worry about it. Adios, leaven! See you in a week, bread! (Don’t forget to check the freezer for leaven. Been there, forgotten that! Again, a great Gospel illustration!) (I will add that some people simply get the yeast/leaven out of their house, and that means different things to different people. You choose.)
So, by Passover, my home is clean and the leaven is out. Except I do hide one piece of plain bread for the kids to find at the beginning of the seder. (The word seder means an order of events, like a program.) I wrap the bread in a napkin or on a paper plate or something so bread crumbs don’t mess up my leaven free clean home, though! But I do have a dustbuster on hand!
A Plush Lamb
Some families get a white stuffed animal lamb to keep front and center in their home starting on the tenth day. They carry it around and use it to remember what it was like for the Israelites to keep the lamb in their home, love it, then sacrifice it. Do you see Yeshua in all of this? Isn’t it beautiful? We will do this tradition this year. Click here to see the plush lamb I just ordered.
On the 14th
We eat the Passover meal on the 14th day at dusk. Some people call this beginning of the 15th day. I follow the sighted moon, so I don’t know until fourteen days prior if the meal will be on this day, or the next. So, for example, this year I’m inviting people and I basically say, “Will you please come to Passover at my home on April 1? There is a possibility it will be on April 2, instead, but I’ll let you know for sure a couple weeks ahead.”
Make it About the Kids
One of Yehovah’s main purposes in asking us to do Passover each year is to teach the children, so I make a big deal for the kids. I have children, so it’s easy for me to invite families with kids, also. But I hope that when I’m an old lady, I’ll still have my grandchildren here and invite other young families. I can work to impress adults at the other Feasts, but this meal is for the kids. They are the focus. You can find loads and loads of ideas for ways to incorporate kid fun into your Passover on Google or Pinterest. Surf around and do it a bit different each year. Last year, I taught the kids like how I used to each Sunday School classes. I used my “teaching kids voice” and asked questions and the whole bit. Break out the flannelgraph, use object lessons, have the kids act out the Exodus story, use props-whatever! You can even have the small children come sit near you you on the floor. But spend at least part of your Seder program talking just to the kids. Your adults guests will know and appreciate that’s what you’re doing. Parents will love it. I thought I’d be nervous, so I actually made notecards, which was fine! You don’t have to be an expert or a great teacher. You’ll be following Yehovah’s commands. Don’t you think He’ll give you the words to say and make it work out just fine for His glory?! Click here to see some fun props on Amazon for telling the story.
Now, let’s talk about the menu. Some people believe you must eat lamb. I don’t think it’s required because there’s no temple to sacrifice it at. Which is a good reminder that we are just sort of observing and practicing the Passover and can’t quite do it perfectly. Especially since we aren’t even going to Jerusalem! I do hope I can do the Feasts in Jerusalem soon! Anyway, I digress again! Back to food… I think the only requirements for your menu are that your food is Biblicaly clean (Leviticus 11) and that it not have leaven/yeast in it. Beyond that, you have loads of options. I’m not very good in the kitchen so I’m not going to spend much time talking about food here because many other bloggers are much better cooks than me! But I do have some tips.
One thing to consider when choosing your menu is that food has to stay warm while you are doing the talking/program part of your Seder. I don’t serve the food for a good hour or two after the Passover begins. I borrowed roasters and such to keep the food warm so I can be done cooking by sundown and sit in the Seder. So choose food that won’t “wilt while it waits.” I prefer to make all the food myself so I know it’s Biblicaly clean and doesn’t have leaven.
We make charoset the day before. It is a traditional food and you can read more about it in the Haggadah. There are several recipes online. Some make it with wine, some with grape juice. I recommend making it very very sweet. Yum! Enjoy the photo of my kids making the charoset we served last year.
I actually bought some of my food pre-made. Think Gordon Food service, or buying from a catering company, etc. Just check ingredients and ask about leaven/yeast. I serve some meat, a couple side dishes, and a dessert.
I could not fit all my guests and tables in my dining room, so I moved furniture around in the living room, and we had our Passover in there. I had to set up three or four of those six foot folding tables, which meant I had to serve the food buffet style from the kitchen counter. I would prefer to serve family style, but it worked out just fine.
I decorate my home with spring like decorations, most of which I bought at the dollar store. I also strung up strands of white lights. Here’s a big hint: Party City is awesome for Feast shopping! They have Egyptian costumes and all sorts of decorations and things! I also bought nearly all of my Passover table setting supplies at Party City. I purchased cheapish fabric tablecloths to make it a little fancier, plus I can use them year after year. I purchased their plastic plates to use over and over. Please remember, I know
this is cheap. I plan to buy a little more each year to have to use over and over again. But it’s okay to do a “paper plate Passover!” Just do it! You and your guests should be focusing on Yeshua, not the napkins. LOL
Also, at Party City, they had these little plastic appetizer bowls that are perfect to put on the Seder plate for the different parts of the Seder. Look at the section where they sell the wedding stuff. I did buy the biggest plastic plates they had for the Seder and put the little bowls on them. I had separate paper plates for the meal.
I bought flowers for centerpieces, but I cut them with short stems
because I didn’t want tall centerpieces so people can’t see one another. I bought clear plastic napkin holders at the dollar store to use to hold lots of extra matzah for the kidstoo munch on whenever they wanted. I put out two per table to share. I set out all the Seder supplies before guests arrived.
Everything on my tables was white or clear or silver, except with a little light blue. The fanciest and thickest paper plates I could find in both dinner plate and matching dessert plates had a little bit of light blue color in the design. So I got some white and light blue ribbon to tie around the flower vases and a few other places for just a splash of color. Keeping everything else white and silver made it very elegant on my budget. Think wedding and then decorate however you want with any colors you choose.
Here’s the bottom line… I make the Passover as fancy as I can within my budget. I want my kids to know this is a special day and we bring out the best to honor Yeshua for this special date with His Father. I also asked my guests to dress up a bit. When the daughters of my friend walked into the room, they gasped and said, “It looks like a wedding!” I hadn’t realized it before, but they are exactly right. I feel like Passover is preparing for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. So yes, I want it to look and feel like a wedding feast again this year.
I did make name cards and placed them where I wanted people to sit. I’m a mommy. There was a definite seating strategy. 😉 But the kids thought the name cards also made it “fancy.” I actually let the big kids all sit together at their own table. They had so much fun, but were good listeners when it was time to listen!
I did as much ahead as I could. I think we even set the table the day before! LOL That may be overkill, but I’m not much of a domestic diva, so anything that makes my life easier is great.
Busy Books for the Kids
I recommend “busy books” for the smaller children. The entire evening lasts about 3-4 hours, so they do get antsy. Bible Pathway Adventures have generously given us a busy book for the preschool kids. Click here to get it as part of my Passover kit. They have more Passover activities for bigger kids, too. Click here to see them all.
Fun Kid Traditions
Here’s a side note of something I’m going to try this year. Some people ask the children to wear their coats and have a stick in their hand for part of the Seder to remember the night of the Exodus. My kids are dying to try this tradition, mainly, I think because they want to have a big stick in the living room. LOL We will see how it goes. They will never forget it, that’s for sure, and if it helps them remember the Exodus and that we are just sojourners in this world with a heavenly citizenship, ready for Yeshua to return, then fine. I’ll let them have big sticks in the living room for this one night each year. I may also let them have pillows to recline as Yeshua reclined and because we can rest in Him.
This may also be a good place to mention another tradition we have, and that is to stay up all night. I usually don’t make it, but my kids do! I rent the Joseph Prince of Egypt movie, so they watch that a couple times, play games, and just hang out. Many families do this to remember that first Exodus night of watching and waiting for Yehovah. Plus, it’s fun.
This part isn’t in the Haggadah, but on the day of Passover, I hide a piece of bread wrapped in a napkin somewhere in the house and tell my kids to find it before our guests arrive. The finder gets a prize and we throw the bread outside. Other families do this a bit differently. It’s a fun tradition.
About the Seder and Haggadah
Look at the top of this post for the link to download the Haggadah I made and use. I tried to add lots of cues so the leader knows what to do and when. Most of it is self explanatory, which is intentional. Usually, the man of the house is the leader. I’m single, so I read those parts myself. There are three parts for the smallest children. And there are several reading parts of Scripture for older kids or any guest. I just go around the room as we go through the Seder. I also ad lib a LOT! It’s hard for me to stick to a script. If I think something needs more explanation, I take a moment to explain or teach, especially if someone has a question. My Seder is a little formal, but not so formal that I can’t follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance!
I do foot washing in my seder, in following Yeshua’s example. I do let my guests know this ahead of time. Of course, if someone doesn’t want to participate in this (or any part), I don’t make them. It’s written into my Haggadah and I have basins or bowls and towels ready. We will fill them half full with warm water when it’s time to do it. I have one bowl/basin and one towel for every two to four people so it doesn’t take too long. I ask the head of each family to wash those “under” them. I turn on the music and even though there is loads of laughter and awkwardness, my guests have told me it was deep and meaningful to them.
Take your time during your seder, and it will take time! This Haggadah should last 3-4 hours! Start at sundown. Warn your guests that it will be a late evening. Let the children munch on matzah whenever they want because it’s a long time until the dinner is actually served. You may also want to have a better snack on hand for the hungry littles.
There will be lots of laughter and lulls (and bathroom runs) in between different parts of the Seder. I suppose some people have very formal and stiff seders, but not me. We laugh and have fun and celebrate! The things we do are somewhat unusual, so people giggle and it takes them time to participate at certain points. That’s okay! Let them take their time and have fun and talk and chat. During those times, I actually sit down and rest and drink some water. We even turn on music during those breaks. Find a fun Passover play list on Youtube and crank it! Stopping the music also works as a good cue to quiet everyone down when it is time to begin again. Use those breaks to refill the wine/juice, drinking water and matzah if needed. We also used it to clean up spills-no biggie!
When the guests arrived, I had a large seder plate already set up at each setting. I used the largest plate I could find at Party City. I don’t use traditional seder plates but you can. Each plate had two matzah, and four little bowls or cups. One with parsley, one with salt water, one with horseradish sauce/spread, and one with charoset. My son had the idea to turn the Matzah at 45 degree angles to each other to make shape of a star. This all made the tables very pretty. I also get dollar store napkin holders to put extra matzah on the tables for snacking.
I will say some people just put these items in the middle of the table and share them “family style” which works great, too!
I’ll just quickly add that I skip the egg because the origins of that tradition are “iffy.” (Just google it.) I skip the Elijah cup and setting because the one like Elijah already came in John the Baptist. How blessed we are to see such things fulfilled!
A Side Table
Another time saver I learned last year was to have a small side table set up to hold the “extras.” No one sat at this table, but I used it to have on hand near us some of the things we would need throughout the Seder so noone has to run to the kitchen. Let’s see if I can remember what I put on it: extra pitchers of ice water, extra pitchers of grape juice, the wine, loads of extra napkins, extra boxes of matzah, big bowl of charoset, the gift for the afikomen finder flowers, and a framed sign about Passover. It was truly very utilitarian and came in very handy!
I bought extra pitchers at the Dollar General so I’d have lots of sparkling grape juice and ice water already made. Have helpers to refill cups at the right times. The leader can keep reading while they work to save time.
Eating and Singing
When it was time to eat, I asked helpers to bring all the seder plates to the kitchen. Or, maybe the 4 bowls/cups at least. This is a lot of dishes so have a basin ready to store them all so your counter doesn’t get too cluttered. You can even stash that basin of the used seder bowls in the laundry room or somewhere until it’s time to really clean up. Several guests wanted to keep the matzah they hadn’t used yet. Then we served food buffet style and they each got a new plate for eating. We took our time eating, even allowed for “seconds.” Then we finished the Seder. It was getting late, so we skipped the singing and had cheesecake. Maybe I’ll change that order this year.
If you do choose to sing, be prepared with song sheets or music or whatever you want. I may break out the ‘ole hymnal this year and play piano and have an old fashioned hymn sing until midnight. It will be late by that point! We start at 8:00ish, after all.
Have fun! Celebrate!
Be sure people can hear the leader. He/she should stand, I think, so they can be heard better. I moved to the center of the room, too.
Remember you’re talking to kids. My Haggadah is very simple, and I ad libbed to make it even simpler at times so the kids can truly understand and remember. It’s for them.
Relax. Don’t rush. Warn your guests it may go to 11, midnight or even later! Then relax.
Let your guests have freedom. Because it is so long, let them put their smallest children to bed in your bedrooms, etc. Be flexible. Let them all stay up all night with you, even!
Be ready for spills. A wise friend told me to have some stain spray, rags and paper towel on hand for grape juice and wine spills. We used it! And all the stains came out. No worries.
Write notes on your Haggadah to save for next year. Before you forget, as you think of things, write them in the margins of your Haggadah and save it so you have them for next year. If you’re like me, every Passover will be your “best one yet!”
Next year in Jerusalem!
This post is so long! So I’ll end it by saying I hope this has helped and you have a blessed Passover. Next year in Jerusalem!
Shalom and Chag Sameach Pesach!,