When Is Passover 2019? Jewish Holiday Tells The Story of Exodus From Egypt

when is passover 2019
The Passover Seder table at the home of Nisim Nisimov, the head of the municipality of the Red Village in Guba. In 2019, Passover will begin on Friday, April 19, at sundown and conclude on April 27 at sundown. Reza/Getty Images

Along with the four questions that are asked by a child each year at the Passover Seder, there is a fifth question about the holiday that pops up annually: "When does Passover start?"

This year, Passover will begin at sundown on Friday, April 19, and conclude at sundown on Saturday, April 27, the end of Shabbat.

The uncertainty surrounding when the Jewish holidays begin can be chalked up to two main factors: They begin at sundown and align with the lunar calendar. Unlike secular holidays, which begin at 12:01 a.m. on the respective day, Jewish holidays begin at sundown the night beforehand. So the first full day of a Jewish holiday isn't the holiday's actual beginning.

Another reason for the constant wondering of when Jewish holidays, in this case specifically Passover, begin is that the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle, not the solar cycle, as the Gregorian calendar does. Passover, in accordance with the Hebrew calendar, spans the 15 to the 22 days of the month, Nissan.

To mark the beginning of Passover, families and friends gather together for two Seders, which are held on the first two nights of the holiday. A Seder tells the story of the Jewish people's persecution and subsequent exodus from Egypt. It is guided by a book called a Haggadah and covers the historical context of the time period, the ten plagues God sent and, finally, the exodus.

As with other holidays across religions, the evening is marked with a large feast of several different courses. Families follow different traditions but many dine on courses of gefilte fish and matzoh-ball soup. Many of the foods that are consumed during the course of the Seder bear symbolic meaning.

Maror, or bitter herbs, are eaten as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. The salt water, which participants often dip parsley into before eating, is reminiscent of the tears and suffering of the Jewish people's ancestors. Charoset, often a combination of chopped apple and walnut, resembles the mortar and brick the Jewish people made when the pharaoh enslaved them, and a roasted lamb-shank bone represents the lamb that was sacrificed the night the Jews escaped from Egypt.

Jewish people observing Passover abstain from eating leavened bread and instead eat matzoh. Although the Seder is supposed to be observed in a reclining position, many families opt to sit upright in chairs surrounding a table.