WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama marked the start of Passover with a private Seder in the executive mansion.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama invited friends and White House aides to mark the Jewish holiday with a meal on Monday, March 29. The Obama aides started the tradition during 2008's primary campaign in Pennsylvania; Obama made a surprise stop to meet with staffers who were sharing an impromptu meal in a hotel basement.

The event continued last year at the White House with a small group of aides and advisers.

Passover is the Jewish holiday in which eating regular leavened bread — bread that rises — is forbidden. Instead, Jews eat matzo, or unleavened bread, to remember the time when Jews fled slavery in Egypt.