passover

When is Passover Over? Is it 7 or 8 Days?

Does Passover End on the 7th or 8th Night?

When is Passover over? It’s a question I ask myself each year when the inevitable battle with self-control starts to kick in and I start dreaming about cheesy pasta. As a member of the Reform movement, Passover lasts for 7 days, but my conservative friends must hold out on their carbo load for one more day since Passover is 8 days for them. But why? How many days is Passover?

7 pieces of matzah

The Short Answer: 

Passover 2021 ends on Saturday, April 3rd, if you are living in Israel or part of the Reform movement. 

Passover 2021 ends on Sunday, April 4th, if you are a Conservative or Orthodox Jew living outside of Israel. 

Passover 2022 ends on Friday, April 22nd if you are living in Israel or part of the Reform movement. 

Passover 2022 ends on Saturday, April 23rd if you are a Conservative or Orthodox Jew living outside of Israel.

When Is Passover Over and Why Do the Days it Ends Vary?

The calendar is clear: Passover is celebrated from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. But, how do the dates on the Hebrew calendar translate to the Gregorian calendar?

Determining the date for the first night of Passover each year is easy. It’s the same date for everyone. Our holidays follow the moon cycles, so like the rest of the Jewish holidays, Passover begins on the eve when the sun goes down.

So why is there a discrepancy when it comes to Passover end dates? Well, it all comes down to which days you consider to be Yom Tov, or the actual festival days. Yom Tov, which translates literally from Hebrew to mean good day, are the annual dates on the Jewish calendar where the Torah prohibits work. While work is also prohibited on Shabbat, work on Yom Tov is actually defined somewhat differently. The distinction is primarily related to the preparation of food.

For those living in Israel and Jews living outside Israel that belong to the Reform Movement, Passover lasts for seven days because Yom Tov is on days one and seven. Passover lasts for eight days for Conservative and Orthodox Jews living outside of Israel because Yom Tov is actually four days, the first two and last two days of  Passover — day one, day two, day seven, and day eight. There are some exceptions, but you can use this as a general rule.

passover in biblical times

Why do Conservative and Orthodox Jews living in the Diaspora (outside of Israel) observe Yom Tov for four days? Way back when — I’m talking prior to the 4th century — witnesses would observe the moon to determine when the month began. This was necessary because the lunar month can be 29 or 30 days. Once the proper date was determined, it took a long time for messengers to travel to communities far away from Israel to let them know exactly which day the new month began. To cover their bases, geographically-distant communities began observing Yom Tov for two days, to ensure that that one of the days would be the correct date. In the case of Passover, which also has a festival day on the last day of the holiday — that meant observing Yom Tov not just on the first and second day, but on the seventh and the eighth day as well. While we have since switched over to a computer system for accurate dates and don’t have to rely on messengers anymore, religious Jews outside of Israel still maintain this custom.

We don’t just celebrate Yom Tov, but also the middle days of Passover that lie in between. These intermediary days also vary depending on the movement you belong to and your geographic location. These days known in Hebrew as Chol Hamoed are the five middle days of Passover or days two through six for Reform Jews and those living in Israel. And for Conservative and Orthodox Jews living outside of Israel, the intermediary days are the four middle days, or days three through six. Work is not prohibited in the same way on the days of Passover in between Yom Tov, but they are still days to celebrate. 

Passover Dates (Yom Tov + Chol Hamoed) for 2021 & 2022

The Gregorian calendar will tell us that Passover begins on March 27th, 2021 and April 16th, 2022. So why do I have the start date for Yom Tov as the 28th and 16th, respectively? Because the Jewish calendar begins and ends at sundown, rather than at midnight. So, while our Passover seder starts on the 27th according to the Gregorian calendar, the 28th begins at sundown on the Jewish calendar.

DatesPASSOVER 2021
Jews Living in Israel/Reform Jews
PASSOVER 2021
Conservative/Orthodox Jews living Outside of Israel
PASSOVER 2022
Jews Living in Israel/Reform Jews
PASSOVER 2022
Conservative/Orthodox Jews living Outside of Israel
Yom TovMarch 28th, April 3rdMarch 28th, March 29th, April 3rd, April 4thApril 16th, April 22ndApril 16th, April 17th, April 22nd, April 23rd
Chol HamoedMarch 29th – April 2ndMarch 30th – April 2ndApril 17th – April 21stApril 18th – April 21st
Check out the dates for 2021-2030 on the Jewish Holidays Calendar

Does your family celebrate Passover for 7 or 8 days? Let us know in the comments below! And, if you are looking for more Passover content, make sure to check out these other BMA blog posts.

11 Fun Passover Seder Ideas to Enrich Your Pesach Meal

Passover Zoom Backgrounds for Your Virtual Seder

Passover Table Decorations: Beautiful Seder Decor

Michael Aram Seder Plates: Which is Best for Your Seder?

Learn Passover Greetings in English, Hebrew & Yiddish

Passover Prayers: Master the Important Pesach Blessings

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