Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a celebration of freedom and it’s one of my favorite holidays.
Before the 8-day celebration begins we do our spring cleaning and remove all chametz from our home. Chametz is that which we are forbidden to eat on Passover, a mixture of flour and water which has been allowed to rise.
On the first night of Passover we enjoy our Seder meal and we read from a special book called a Haggadah. Seder means order and Haggadah means to tell. We follow a certain order in telling the story of the Exodus through stories, songs, and blessings.
Our Seder Table includes:
- Three pieces of matzah covered with a cloth. The middle matzah is broken in half, wrapped in a napkin, and someone hides it. We call this the Afikoman and whoever finds the Afikoman after dinner gets a special treat
- Holiday candles
- A bottle of wine and a bottle of Welch’s Sparkling Red Grape Juice Cocktail
- A bowl of salt water for dipping foods
- A big bowl of water to wash the hands
- Elijah’s Cup is set on the table along with an extra chair and place setting for the prophet Elijah.
The centerpiece of the table is the Seder Plate which is a symbolic representation of food that tells the story of how the Jewish people were freed from being slaves in Egypt.
The Seder Plate includes:
Charoset- a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine which represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to build palaces for the Egyptian rulers.
Z’roah (Zeroa)- a roasted shank bone which signifies the lamb sacrificed on Passover during the days of the Holy Temple. Since we are vegetarians, we use a roasted beet.
Beitzah- an egg which symbolizes the life cycle and the offering made at the Temple in Jerusalem.
Karpas- parsley, celery, radish, onion, or potato which reminds us of springtime. The vegetable is dipped in salt water and the salty water symbolizes the tears we cried when we were slaves.
Maror- a bitter herb that is symbolic of the bitter life of our people in Egypt. I use horseradish.
Chazeret- a second bitter herb representative of the bitter life of the slaves. I use romaine lettuce.
Years ago we started a tradition in our family to include one item on the Seder plate that represents our family’s past year. One year we used a hot pepper to represent the spice in our family and one year we used honey to symbolize the sweetness of our family.
We tell the story of Passover and ask the Four Questions:
On all other nights we eat either bread or matzoh. Why tonight do we eat only matzoh?
On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs. Why tonight do we eat only bitter herbs?
On all other nights we eat herbs without dipping them into anything. Why tonight do we dip them twice into salt water?
On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining. Why tonight do we all recline?
As we tell the Passover story we bring the 10 plagues to life. Each person receives a brown bag filled with the plagues and the bag is labeled “Do Not Open by Order of the Pharaoh”. I try to get creative with the plagues like the first plague which is The Nile waters turning to Blood. I use a large clear pitcher and put red food color at the bottom. When someone pours the water in the pitcher it turns red to represent the blood.
We also have another tradition of watching A Pickles Passover.
Enjoy your ceremonial feast with family and friends and may your Passover be filled with learning, laughter, and the making of new traditions and memories.
Courtesey of G-DCAST
The Passover Seder with the Four Sons