When I was younger, I would mark the passing of the year by the arrival of Passover (or Pesach). I knew that when Pesach came, the year was almost over (from the ages of 5 to 15 I was under the impression that the year began in September [School] and ended in June [Summer Vacation!])
In Israel, I celebrate Pesach Morroccan-style with my grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts. We go through the entire Haggadah (no shortcuts) and sing traditional sephardic Pesach songs, some in Arabic. Whenever I would whine to my mother “Are we there, yet?” whispering under the chanting undulations of the Seder, she would point out to me that I had it easy: when she was a child, my grandfather would recite the Haggadah twice: once in Hebrew, and once in Arabic.
Pesach in Israel is a totally different vibe: no wheat is allowed (chametz) and the days before bakeries close, and supermarkets practically give away their pasta. Those uninterested in abstaining from gluten stuff their freezers with baked goods in preparation for a week in which any trace of chametz is obliterated or covered with a black cloth: If you can’t see it, is doesnt exist.
This year, I flew home to NYC for Pesach break to celebrate the holiday with my nuclear family and friends. My mom went all out, as usual; making lamb, matza balls (light and fluffy) chicken,gefilte fish (from scratch), chopped liver, veggie chopped liver, kebabs with cinnamon sticks and maybe 8 different salads. The kebabs especially were a big hit : cinnamon sticks are meat’s new best friend.
My favorite part of the Seder, besides for the obvious act of eating, is the moment right before the guests come: when the table, gleaming in white and crystal, shines with the light of the setting sun and the promise of a good year to come.