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Pesach is also known as the Festival of Matzah because an essential element in it is eating only unleavened bread throughout its seven days (Exodus 12:15-20). Furthermore, during that period, "no leaven must be found in your houses" (Exodus 12:19).

Traditionally, the day before the Festival begins is the day when the last leaven must be removed from the house and burned, and from that moment on the only bread found in the house will be 'unleavened bread' (matzah).

Thus "the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread" (Matthew 26:17) is the day before the start of Pesach. Since according to the Jewish calendar a day begins at sundown, what this means is that the leaven is burned around mid-morning, and Pesach commences with the Seder service after the sun has set.