I love Pesach (Passover). I love the purity and the newness. I love the springtime freshness and the themes of freedom and family. I don’t mind the cleaning and the rotation of special dishes and ingredients.
The secret is that I do a bare minimum of the cleaning and really try to put the emphasis on the true themes of this holiday. It takes some organization, but there is a true sense of mastery and majesty that comes with Pesach that takes my breath away.
Here are five simple ways to retain the magical wow of Pesach:
(1) Keep the cleaning simple
Focus on ridding your house of chametz (leavened products) only and do not be tempted to do a thorough spring cleaning. It is not necessary to wash curtains, organize closets and steam-clean your carpets. If you must, save the spring cleaning until after Pesach.
(2) Stay organized
Start as early as possible segregating the chametz (leavened products) so that you can use up what you have before Pesach. If possible, shop, prepare menus and recipes and cook in advance so that you are not overwhelmed. Although I love to prepare fresh meals, for Pesach, I prepare all my baked goods, meats and side dishes in advance and freeze them. This cuts down on the magnitude of the cooking in the days before Pesach.
(3) Don’t lose your focus
With all that there is to do, make sure that the focus is on freedom, family and tradition. Make sure that everyone is well-rested and prepared before the seder. Enlist the help of your family and design your seder in a way that is meaningful to all your family members. Try to prepare foods and traditions that will create everlasting memories and keep the food choices and preparations to a minimum. Encourage each of your family members and guests to share ideas and inspirations at your seder.
(4) Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Try to get enough sleep and relaxation before the holiday begins. Make sure to eat well, especially on Erev Pesach (the day of the Passover seder). Even with the best organization, the magnitude of Pesach preparation is huge, so reward yourself. Buy yourself something new for the holiday or pamper yourself. Buy a new tablecloth, a new outfit, a new haggadah or schedule a massage or facial.
(5) Do something to create that eternal wow
Try to take the emphasis off the material preparation and refocus it on the spiritual preparation for the holiday of Pesach. Take some time to read the Haggadah before the seder, perhaps with a new commentary. Try to find family outdoor time over Chol Hamoed (intermediary days of Passover) and find time for family discussion about the themes of Pesach before, during and after the seder.
Think about creating a seder table theme. In the past, our daughter, Leah, has decorated our seder table with elements of the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea. It gets our family and guests engaged.
Pesach commemorates freedom from our enslavement in Egypt and the beginning of the Jewish people coming together as a nation. The seder is designed to engage our children and pass our rich heritage and traditions down to others. Let us remain true to these goals and release ourselves from the enslavement all too often associated with this beautiful holiday.
With best wishes for successful and joyous Pesach preparations….