I decided this is a fabulous idea, so let's make a timeline for Pesach! (There is more to come on all of these topics, so don't freak out if you don't know what something is! We'll talk about it very soon!)
NOTE: This presumes you are in the Diaspora, as we discussed yesterday. And let's hope I got all the dates right! Be sure to add your additions, corrections, and comments below!
Yom Tov Restrictions:
Sundown April 18-Sundown April 20: The first two days of Pesach have yom tov restrictions (similar to Shabbat restrictions, but we'll talk about that in the next week or so).
Sundown April 20-Sundown April 24: Chol hamoed. Technically, there aren't yom tov restrictions, but there are restrictions unique to chol hamoed. You should particularly try to avoid any "skilled work." If you are considering working or doing schoolwork during this period, you should consult your rabbi. The most notable general issues: 1) You may cook. 2) You may "light a fire." 3) You may not do laundry unless it's for the holiday and was impossible to do before the holiday began. 4) Generally, hair cutting and shaving is forbidden. 5) You should be festive.
Sundown April 24-Sundown April 26: Yom tov restrictions.
Things to Do:
April 15-16: Shabbat HaGadol (the Great Shabbat). We read from the book of Malachi.
April 17: By now, you should know if you're going to sell any chametz. If so, you need to make the appropriate arrangements with a local rabbi, probably before April 17. If you're more isolated, Chabad allows for the sale of chametz through their website. You will also need to have the sold chametz put away appropriately.
Evening of April 17: Search for chametz. There is a blessing for this.
Morning of April 18: Burn the chametz you found the night before. Then make the declaration that nullifies any other chametz that may accidentally be left. You may not eat chametz after a particular time this morning, which you should look up for your location.
April 18: Fast of the Firstborn (males). You may not actually have to fast even if you are a qualified firstborn.
Sundown April 18: Pesach begins at sundown. We light candles. Tonight is the first seder!
Sundown April 19: We light candles again after sunset. (Remember to use an existing flame!) Then go to the second seder!
Sundown April 20: Recite havdalah but without the blessing for the candle or spices. At the maariv service, we begin to count the Omer.
Count the Omer at maariv each night after April 20.
Sundown April 22: Light Shabbat candles before sunset like normal. Instead of two challahs, use two matzahs.
April 23: Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach. In addition to the normal Pesach readings, we read Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim) during the Torah service.
Sundown April 23: Recite havdalah like normal.
Sundown April 24: Light candles for the two yom tov days at the end of Pesach. Have a festive meal!
Sundown April 25: We light candles again after sunset. (Remember to use an existing flame!)
April 26: We recite the Yizkor memorial service after the Torah reading.
Sundown April 26: Pesach ends! Recite havdalah without the blessing on the candle or spices. Now go eat some chametz! If you sell your chametz, you will be told to wait a certain amount of time in order to allow the rabbi to buy your chametz back. Generally, this is about an hour. If you're going to eat chametz that wasn't sold, you may eat it immediately. Most people go out for pizza, bagels, or donuts.