This traditional Jewish holiday is commenced with the Passover Seder. Seder is Hebrew for order. The Passover Seder is a ritual feast often celebrated by members of the same community or family. Slavery and freedom are the themes of the Seder. Jewish people all over the world pause to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. In performing all their rituals, special blessings, and unique Passover songs, Seder participants use the ancient text of the Haggadah.
According to the Haggadah, six symbolic foods are placed on the special Passover Seder plate:
- Maror and chazeret — Bitter herbs, representing the bitterness of the slavery. Horseradish and/or romaine lettuce is often used for this requirement.
- Charoset — A sugary mixture composed of chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt Karpas — Most often parsley, celery, or boiled potato dipped into salt water to symbolize the tears and sweat of the Hebrew slaves.
- Z’roa — A roasted lamb or goat shank bone, chicken wing, or chicken neck. While not eaten or handled during Seder, this item symbolizes the Pesach sacrifice. This sacrifice originally consisted of a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Beitzah — A hard-boiled egg representing the festival sacrifice that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem. The egg serves as a reminder of the mourning that followed after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Three whole matzot — Also known as the “poor man’s bread,” Matza is an unleavened bread used to substitute traditional breads. The bread symbolizes the importance of being humble and never forgetting life in servitude.
- Four cups of wine are also consumed during the Passover Seder. The cups of wine are swallowed while remembering the four promises God made to the Jewish people. The beverage is partaken in a leisurely position to celebrate the freedom of no longer being a slave.
The celebration of Passover doesn’t end with the Seder, traditionally Jewish people spend eight days reflecting on and celebrating the importance of freedom.
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