How to survive and truly enjoy Pesach

Pesach is a happy holiday, often synonymous with large family gatherings and joyful overeating. But it can also be draining and leave you robbed of both energy and money, which is unlikely to make for merry partaking in the celebration.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few suggestions to avoid exhaustion and frustration so you can enjoy Pesach as you should.

  • Two weeks before Pesach: the cleaning of the house in preparation for Pesach involves a lot of tedious work. Traditionally most of this work falls on women but today it is perfectly acceptable and even recommended that all the family members do their part according to age and availability. Children of all ages can look for crumbs while adults start disposing of other forbidden foods, cleaning and preparing the kitchen, etc. Depending on your level of observance this could take weeks, especially if you are doing it at night after a full day of work. Don’t leave it ’til the last minute or you will be exhausted before you even get to the celebration. This is also a good time to think of decorations, homemade Haggadot and everything you’ll want to use which won’t spoil. Again, getting family and friends to participate in these projects will alleviate the burden.
  • One week before the Seder(s): the major challenge of Pesach involves food. What we eat during Pesach is different from what we usually eat, requiring that we use different recipes and that we shop differently. And of course, the week of Pesach starts with one or two big celebratory meals which require a lot of preparation. If you are hosting the Seder, it is a good idea to do the shopping and as much of the cooking as you can the preceding week. Find recipes you can make in advance, freeze some of the dishes and leave the absolute minimum for the last minute. Don’t hesitate to recruit help from your guests. If you are under time or financial constraints, make your Seder a potluck dinner and ask everyone to contribute a dish. Seders can be vast affairs. Guests come to enjoy togetherness, not to judge you on your cooking. So chances are they’ll be happy to contribute. Just make sure everyone respects your level of observance.
  • On the day(s) of the Seder: if you’ve prepared everything in advance, there will be little left to do on the day of the Seder besides setting the table and serving the food. Again don’t hesitate to ask your guests to participate so you don’t have to spend the evening slaving away in the kitchen. And if you are a guest at someone’s house, make sure you offer your help. Remember, we are celebrating a miracle but miracles are rare and don’t generally involve food appearing by itself on a table or dirty dishes being cleaned without human intervention.
  • On the following days: after the Seder(s), the rest of the week will seem like a breeze, except for the “Matzah problem”. As we all know, Pesach food is a big divider among Jews: some love it, some hate it. But regardless of our thoughts on the matter, most of us will experience some digestive issues before the week is over. Make sure your food intake is as varied as possible (see the blog we published last year for recipe ideas) and, most importantly, don’t forget to eat your vegetables!

We hope our suggestions will help you enjoy Pesach even more this year than ever.

Chag Pesach Sameach!