Pesach begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan according to the Hebrew calendar, i.e. March or April. Pesach is one of the three Pilgrimage Festivals – on Pesach the ancient Jews made pilgrimages to Jerusalem and offered sacrifices. Pesach is also called the Festival of Spring (Hag Aviv in Hebrew) due to the fact that it is always in spring, and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah in Hebrew) because only unleavened bread is eaten. Pesach commemorates the Exodus from Egypt.
Seder is a special religious ritual that takes place in Jewish homes on the first two nights of the festival. The word seder in Hebrew means order, and it signifies the strict order of the festival dinner, the recital of prayer and the reading of the Haggadah.
During the dinner, the Haggadah Shel Pesach is read and four glasses of wine are drunk. The Passover Seder plate (keara in Hebrew) contains special dishes that symbolically recall the slavery of the Jews and their Exodus: matzo (unleavened bread), chicken wing and egg, maror (bitter herbs that symbolise the bitter life of the Jews when they were slaves), charoset (mixture of walnuts, fruit, spices and wine), carpas (celery and parsley) and chaseret (horseradish as spice of the meat or fish, and vinegar for the herbs).
The Haggadah recounts the events relating to the festival, the history of the arrival of the Israelites in Egypt and their Exodus, the need of the Passover sacrifice during the Second Temple, and the use of matzo and bitter herbs. The Haggadah contains excerpts of the Torah, midrash, old legends and stories, discussions and prayer.