Passover Simplified

In our family we have a Last Supper meal on the Thursday before Easter. We start with a modified Passover meal in a sitting down position with the food set on the floor. We eat a simple Mediterranean meal often lentil soup, with grapes, and pita and grape juice. While we eat we: 1) Explain the reason for the Passover which is to remember the miraculous deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery 2) Show the Passover elements on the Seder plate (see below for specifics) and then we eat a Mediterranean style meal 3) We sing Dayenu (English lyrics below) 4) We also briefly talk about Elijah coming on Passover – D&C 110 & explained by Elder Gong (quote below).

If you are looking for an extensive Seder program you could look here or other online resources. We simplify ours because we focus more on the events of the Last supper. If I were going to do a more extensive Passover I would do so during the weeks before or after Holy Week, to spread out the celebrations.

The Seder plate contents & possible symbolism: 1) Roasted egg (circle of life, festival sacrifice); 2) Haroseth (reminder of the mortar Jews used in Egypt as slaves); 3) Green vegetable like parsley or lettuce (hope, renewal); 4) Bitter herb, like horseradish (bitterness of slavery); 5) Shank bone (the lamb sacrifice). Also on the table, but not necessarily on the seder plate: Bowl of salt water for dipping – (salt of the slave’s tears) and unleavened bread (the children of Israel left in haste and did not have time for the bread to rise).

Other Mediterranean food that is nice, but not necessary: Pita, hummus; Mediterranean Salad: cucumbers, tomatoes, with some lemon juice and dill; Grapes, grape juice; Cheeses; Dried fruit: apricots, dates, figs; Some type of soup: lentil soup, veggie soup.

Dayenu is a song often sung at modern-day Passovers, in Hebrew or English; its meaning is “It would have been enough.” We like to watch this entertaining video of the Maccabeats performing Dayenu, and this fun video which teaches the lyrics of Dayenu. I like to invite family members to write a few of their own verses of Dayenu for our family. I love this song but not everyone does, including some of my family members do. Here are the English lyrics to Dayenu.

Interesting facts about the Passover:

  • The date of the Passover differs each year according to the lunar calendar so date does not always fall during the Holy Week
  • In the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus ate the Passover meal the night before he died, which means the Passover meal and Last Supper were combined.
  • In contrast, in the Gospel of John, the Passover lambs were being slain at the same time Jesus was dying on the cross, which means Jesus’ Last Supper would not have been a Passover meal. It seems John wanted to highlight that Jesus is the Passover lamb, by having Jesus Christ crucified at the same time the Passover Lambs were killed. 
  • Passover lasts 7 or 8 days. The “Seder” is a ritual feast that the Jews have at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Seder involves retelling the story of the miraculous delivery of the slaves from ancient Egypt as told in the book of Exodus.  In Exodus 13:8-10 the children of Israel are commanded to retell the story year after year.  Often, this evening of seder is referred to as Passover.
  • To modern-day Christians: The Passover is symbolic of Jesus’ blood delivering us from slavery and penalty of sin. “For Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Corinthians 5:7). When Christians celebrate Passover today, they remember how God miraculously delivered the children of Israel from slavery; and they also remember that now Jesus wants us to remember Him when we partake of the Sacrament/communion, the bread and wine.

Here is part of the quote from Elder Gong’s talk entitled “Hosana and Hallelujah”.

The coming of Elijah in the Kirtland Temple also fulfilled Malachi’s Old Testament prophecy that Elijah would re turn “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” In doing so, Elijah’s appearance coincided, though not by coincidence, with the Jewish Passover season, which tradition reverently anticipates Elijah’s return.

Let us also briefly recall what Passover signifies. Passover remembers the deliverance of the children of Israel from 400 years of bondage. The book of Exodus relates how this deliverance came after plagues of frogs, lice, flies, the death of cattle, boils, blains, hail and fire, locusts, and thick darkness. The final plague threatened the death of the firstborn in the land but not in the house of Israel if—if those households put the blood of an unblemished firstling lamb

The angel of death passed by the houses marked with the symbolic blood of the lamb. That passing by, or pass over, represents Jesus Christ ultimately overcoming death. Indeed, the atoning blood of the Lamb of God gives our Good Shepherd power to gather His people in all places and circumstances into the safety of His fold on both sides of the veil.

For more ideas on a Christ-centered easter visit this page.

Here is a blog with a slightly different take on Passover. She combines Passover elements with her Easter Sunday dinner.