For newly-arrived Jewish immigrants, Passover was one of the milestones in the year when they could both observe old traditions in a new land, and maintain some continuity with their previous existence. One part of the Passover service includes the wish, 'next year in Jerusalem', which, with its reminder of continuous wandering and searching for a lost homeland, must have seemed particularly poignant to new arrivals.
The festival was significant, not just as a religious event in its own right, but also for the way in which it marked out Jews as different from their host communities. The need to eat special food for eight days reinforced the strangeness of their customs - like holding the Sabbath on a different day, and the strict kashrut
food regulations - which already distinguished Jews from their non-Jewish neighbours.
The centrality of the festival in Jewish immigrant life was recognised by authors such as Israel Zangwill. In his book Children of the Ghetto, a crucial scene takes place during Passover, when the heroine has to make an agonising choice between her lover and her Judaism, and eventually decides on the latter.
The dietary requirements of the festival also affected working practices. Jewish bakers, for instance, would close their kitchens during the Passover period. Contracts in Jewish-run bakeries traditionally terminated at Passover, and restarted after the festival was over. Meanwhile matzot needed to be manufactured instead.