How to Celebrate Passover With Your Family

child with matzo

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Passover is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It’s a holiday about strength, perseverance, and liberation. It’s also an opportunity to share a sacred meal with loved ones, learn about the history of the Jewish people, and participate in a yearly ritual of tradition and remembrance.

Maybe you’ve been celebrating Passover all your life and are looking for some new ways for your kids to participate. Perhaps this is your first Passover, and you aren’t sure where to start. Either way, we’ve gathered some engaging and family-friendly ideas for celebrating the holiday with your family.

What Is Passover?

The story of Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is recounted in the Torah. It tells the story of the Jewish people’s enslavement in Egypt and their subsequent escape and liberation from slavery. The story begins when the Jewish people were enslaved by an Egyptian Pharaoh. A Jewish man named Moses, who had been adopted and raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter, hears a prophecy from God instructing him to liberate the Jewish population from slavery.

Moses urges the Pharaoh to free his people from slavery, but when the Pharaoh refuses, God unleashes a series of plagues on the Egyptian people, sparing their Jewish counterparts.  The plagues were: all water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, perpetual darkness, and the killing of firstborn children. 

In the last plague, God instructs Moses to tell the Jewish people to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb. When the Angel of Death passed through Egypt, the marked houses were looked over and the firstborn sons of the Jewish people were not killed. That part of the story is what gave the holiday its name; the Jewish people were passed over during that last, terrible plague. During the tenth plague, the Pharoah's son is killed.

After this, the Pharaoh relents and agrees to let the Jewish people go. But then he changes his mind and a battle ensues between the Jewish people and the Egyptians. God intervenes again, though, parting the Red Sea so that the Jewish people can escape, thereby fleeing the Egyptians and ending their period of enslavement.

When Is It Celebrated?

Passover is celebrated for a week, in the springtime. The dates it’s celebrated vary from one year to another because the dates are based on the Hebrew calendar in the month of Nisan.

Why Is It Celebrated?

Passover is one of the holiest Jewish holidays. The holiday celebrates the resilience and ingenuity of the Jewish people and their release from slavery. It is an opportunity to keep their story of liberation alive through the generations.

Passover is an elaborate and involved celebration that takes place over the course of one week. During that week, observant Jews refrain from eating leavened foods and substitute bread products with matzo. The main event of the week is a Seder, which is a traditional dinner in which the story of Passover is commemorated. The Seder takes place on the first night for Jewish people all over the world, and some Jewish people in the diaspora also hold a second Seder on the second night.

The Seder dinner involves several important rituals, including handwashing, wine drinking, and matzo eating. A Seder plate is set out, which contains foods that represent different elements of the Passover story. Some of the items include bitter herbs called maror, which represent the bitterness of slavery; hard-boiled eggs called beitzah, which symbolizes life and birth in the spring season; saltwater, which represents the tears of slaves; leafy green vegetables such as parsley, called karpas, which stands for redemption and hope; and a lamb shank called zeroah, which represents the sacrifice of Passover. The Passover story itself is also told, as participants read from a text called the Haggadah.

Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Passover

The Passover Seder has several elements that children can get involved with. Let’s take a look at some age-old traditions, and how to make them even more fun for kids, as well as some new ideas for celebrating.

Read Passover Books Together

One of the main themes of Passover is ensuring that the Jewish story of enslavement and liberation is remembered by every generation of Jewish people. Your children get a taste of this story during the Seder, but they may be distracted during this retelling, and there is nothing better than hearing a story while cozying up to a parent. Consider reading some Passover books with your child before the Seder, or really anytime during Passover.

Have Your Child Help Prepare the Meal

There are several simple cooking tasks associated with Passover that even the youngest kids can participate in. Making the Seder plate is one of them. Your child can help you place each ingredient in the correct spot on the plate, and you can discuss what each ingredient means in terms of the story of Passover.

With careful supervision, your child can help participate in cooking the main Passover meal. They can help you make the charoset (a sweetened apple and nut dish that kids love) and they can help you form matzo balls for matzo ball soup. If you are adhering to an unleavened bread diet the week of Passover, your child might like to help you make kid-friendly matzo dishes such as matzo pizza and matzo nachos.

Act Out the Passover Story

If your children are old enough—or even if they are young, but you are able to help—you can have them put together a short skit to act out the story of Passover. There is a lot of drama to the story, and children really love acting out the 10 plagues of Passover in particular. Get them some costumes and props, and they will be totally smitten.

Afikomen Fun

Most Seders have a kid-centered activity built into them: hiding and searching for the afikomen. At the beginning of the Seder, a piece of matzo is wrapped up and put away till the Seder meal is over. Often, the afikomen is hidden and the children who are present at the Seder go and look for it. This, in and of itself, is a lot of fun for kids!

If you want to make this activity even more fun and you have crafty kids, you can have your children design a bag or carrying pouch for the afikomen. You can also consider turning the afikomen seeking into a scavenger hunt, replete with clues, and diversions along the way.

Participate in the Seder

There are many ways children can get involved as the Haggadah is read during the Seder. During the Seder, children are traditionally involved in the reading of the “four questions.” Children usually really enjoy this, and you can help your child feel confident in reading out these questions by preparing them for this moment beforehand.

As the Passover story is read, your child can participate by acting out the story alongside the reader. You can purchase Passover themed puppets or finger puppets for your child. You can also put together a bag of props to help your kids act out the plagues (plastic toy frogs, cotton balls for hail, plastic bugs and animals, etc.).

A Word From Verywell

Having your family participate in a Passover celebration and a Seder is a wonderful way to make meaningful and lasting memories. Whether you are Jewish or simply have Jewish loved ones, there is something for everyone during Passover. After all, Passover is about overcoming hardships, breaking free from the bonds of oppression, and the enduring strength of the human spirit. Those are themes we can all embrace and celebrate.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Britannica. Passover: Story, meaning, traditions, & facts.

  2. National Geographic. A brief history of Passover, which honors resilience amid adversity.

  3. Passover.

  4. Chabad. When Is Passover in 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026?.

  5. Encyclopedia Brittanica. Seder: the Passover meal.

  6. Chabad. Why do we hide the Afikomen?

  7. Chabad. What are the four questions (Ma Nishtana)?.

Additional Reading

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.