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Planning a Seder? Be careful which online calendar you consult for the date

Displaying the night when Passover begins as an ‘all day’ holiday is confusing — and wrong

Do you use an online calendar? If you do, you might want to double-check how it lists Jewish holidays before planning your Seder.

The iPhone calendar shows “Passover, Wednesday, Apr 5, 2023, All day.” In fact, Passover begins April 5 at nightfall.

Miriam E. Tucker was momentarily taken aback by this when she went to check dates for a family Seder. “I just noticed my iPhone calendar has the wrong date for Passover,” she tweeted at Apple. “It says the first day is April 5th but it’s actually the 6th. Surely you know Jewish holidays start the eve before?”

Apple support tweeted back: The date for Passover is set correctly, it is set to all day instead of beginning at nightfall since this will be different depending on where you are in the country.” 

But other calendars solve the time zone issue by using the phrase “eve” in their listings without specifying a time for when the holiday begins. The Google calendar and timeanddate.com both describe April 5 as “Passover Eve.” Microsoft Outlook calendars offer a description that’s positively haimish for members of the tribe, showing April 5 as “Erev Pesach.” 

(If you don’t see these notations on your versions of these calendars, you may need to change your settings to display Jewish holidays.) 

“Honestly, I never paid attention before,” Tucker said in a phone interview. “But when I looked at my phone, and saw that it said Passover, all day, April 5, I was pretty sure that’s not right.” After checking and discovering that April 5 is the first night of the holiday, not the first day, she said, “I get why an uninformed person would think that. But the first ‘all day’ is April 6, no matter how you slice and dice it.”

In her exchange with Apple on Twitter, she added, “I understand how the mistake was made, but it is absolutely wrong. Jewish holidays begin at nightfall the night before, not ‘all day.’ Most calendars label the day, and Jews know to observe the prior evening. Your labeling will absolutely confuse.”

Paper calendars routinely list Passover as starting on the first day, “if they list it at all,” she said, without bothering to note that the holiday actually begins the previous night. 

But many online calendars are inconsistent. Tucker said in an email that the Passover error “might just be a fluke, since they have the correct ‘all-day’ dates” for Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. In addition many calendars that correctly show Passover as starting the night of April 5 are inconsistent for other holidays, showing only the full day and not the “eve of” as the start date. 

That’s less confusing than describing the evening before as an all-day observance, Tucker said. “We as Jews are supposed to know it starts the night before,” she said. But she added that if calendars are going to show Christmas Eve, there’s no reason they can’t do the same for Jewish holidays.

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