This Friday evening signals the onset of Passover, and I’m already practically quivering with anticipation. Quivering, I tells ya!
This is the holiday when Eliyahu ha-Navi - known in English-speaking Western countries as “Santa Claus” - takes his magical chariot with wheels of fire (cleverly disguised as a sleigh for the benefit of Northern Europeans) and flies all over the world to sample Manschewitz wine and deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls while they sleep, visions of matzohballs dancing in their heads.
Eliyahu ha-Navi, AKA “Santa Claus.” Note the freshly-fallen cherry blossoms covering the town like snow. Also note the full moon: Passover always begins when the moon is full.
In Hebrew, the holiday is called Pesach, taking its name from the special sacrifice that originated when the Children of Israel prepared to escape from Egyptian bondage. The blood of the Paschal Lamb was used to mark the homes of the Israelites so that the Malakh ha-Movis - the Destroyer - would avoid them as he went on his dread errand. In like wise, the glass of Manischewitz wine splashed on the doorposts and lintels of our homes today serves as a signal to Eliyahu (“Santa”) that he should pass over that house - and then stop in to have a glass wine and drop off a few tchotchkes.
Only three more days to go before Eliyahu - er, “Santa” - takes flight. We’ll have a plate of matzoh brei and the traditional glass of sweet Concord grape wine in its special alcove by the fireplace, and the kids will have their Grandpa’s truss hanging from the mantel just as when they were little. They still love to chant the old Passover song:
Be gracious unto me
Be nice, don’t make a fuss
Put my presents in the truss
Be a sweetheart, not a grouch
And fill up that big ol’ pouch
O, be gracious unto me.
Ahhh, tradition. It warms the cockles of my heart every year... and anyone’ll tell you that Passover is a time for matzoh, maror (bitter herbs), wine, and warm cockles.
[A version of this post originally appeared at the Old Place in 2009.]