Along with the traditional elements is a whole lot of fellowship. The kids (17 of them!) love to find things to do, whether it's chasing chickens and guinea hens, swinging on the swings, exploring the farm, canoeing on the pond or trying to catch fish in a net. We adults pass the time doing much of the same, though without as much running and screaming and often with some kind of adult beverage at hand.
Sadly, this year, we weren't able to make it down in time for the slaughter due to some minor illness with the boys that morning, but fortunately, they were well enough right after lunch for us to go down and join in the festivities. Fortunately, we didn't miss out on the roasting of the lamb. Our mechanism for turning the spit can be temperamental and often takes several tries to get arranged properly. Even then, it has to be checked often or we'll find it (as we did once) with the chain completely twisted up and bound into a large metal ball. However, it's certainly no chore standing watch over a wonderful-smelling roast lamb. The best part, in my opinion, is the carving of the meat. It's just such a heavenly smell and the taste is out of this world. Along with the lamb, we all bring multiple side dishes and have ourselves a true feast.
After the meal, the kids move to another room to watch the Prince of Egypt while the adults clean up and spend more time cleaning up, drinking wine and talking. Oh! and eating dessert. Mmmmm. Once the movie is done, we all retire to our respective sleeping arrangements and settle in for the night. Our tradition is to not leave the house after sunset, just as the Israelites stayed indoors to avoid being struck down by the Angel of Death.
Morning came and with it another bountiful meal. Everyone brought some version of kugel, which is a casserole, either sweet or savory. Ours was a sweet cinnamon kugel with eggs and egg noodles. Other families brought kugels made with matzo or potatoes. They were all wonderful. The rest of the time was spent much as the day previously: in fellowship and relaxation. In the past, we've rushed out the door right after breakfast in an attempt to be kind to our hosts and give them a break from the madness, but we were assured that all were welcome to stay as long as we liked, so we did and were glad for it. Time spent in fellowship with friends is always time well spent. We took advantage of the time to go canoeing ourselves. Rebecca and I took a turn around the pond and then I passed my paddle to Gabe and Ezra for their turn.
Shortly after lunch, it was time to pack up and go, but we'd had a wonderful time.
At home, we have a few traditions of our own. We do the Four Cups, just like at the big celebration, but we do it in a less distracting environment so the kids will know what's going on and what each cup represents both from an Exodus perspective and from a Messianic perspective. We read the Exodus story and act out each of the 10 plagues, which is both fun and educational for the kids. (My favorite is the hail! :)) We also go through and clean out all the leaven (yeast) from our home in preparation for Pesach (Feast of Unleavened Bread), which goes on for the seven days following Passover. The kids love the searching around to find the pieces I've hidden in various places. Last year, I forgot how many and where I hid all the bits of bread I had hidden, so I suspect we never found the last one or two. This year, however, I used the cheap packets of yeast you get from the grocery store and so I knew exactly how many there were and if we didn't find one, I wasn't worried about a mouse or other critter coming to find it. On the third day after the Passover, we celebrate the Resurrection of our Messiah with resurrection cookies and reading about the things that happened that fateful morning so long ago.
This year, on the last day of Pesach, we celebrated the Meal of Messiah, which is a mirror to the Passover meal, but where Passover looks at what has happened in the past, the Meal of Messiah looks ahead to when the Messiah will return in glory, take us as His bride and establish the New Jerusalem and bring about unparalleled peace and blessing. We had a great time doing this meal together and will surely make it part of our celebration each year from now on.
We hope that these traditions we are establishing will continue for many years to come and that our children will continue to be blessed and grow in their understanding of God's Torah.