Thank goodness Passover is 8 days long because I’m two days late on my Passover post! The thing about a holiday as food-centric as this one is that you spend so much time around the Cuisineart you have no time left to sit at your laptop. Fortunately, though the Seders have come and gone, there is still almost a week left to do some holiday pertinent activities. First, a recap for those of you who might not be familiar with this roller coaster ride of a holiday (from slavery, to plagues, to climactic exodus, to somber reflection):
Friday night began the 8 day long holiday called Pesach, or Passover. It is the first of the three festivals remembering the pilgrimage of the Jews (along with Sukkot and Shavuot). Pesach celebrates the Jews’ exodus from Egypt; the beginning of their journey.
The story of Passover begins with the Jews living as slaves in the land of Egypt. Moses, who was chosen by G-d to lead the Jewish people, pleaded with the ruler of Egypt to give them their freedom. When that ruler, Pharaoh, would not allow them to leave, G-d released 10 plagues upon the land in the hopes of pursuading Pharaoh to change his mind. After the 10th plague, Pharaoh finally gave in and allowed them to leave. Moses led his people to the Red Sea, and raising his staff, parted the water so that the Jews could walk on dry land and pass through to the other side of the sea. During the Jews’ escape, the Egyptians realized they weren’t ready to give up their slaves and raced after them. Moses raised his staff again returning the sea to how it was, and the entire Egyptian army was drowned.
The name “Passover” comes from what occurred during the last plague; the slaying of the first born. To protect themselves, the Jews marked their doors with lamb’s blood, and G-d “passed over” their homes, keeping their children safe from the curse.
Despite a few bleak details of Passover’s story, it is a festive holiday that first and foremost celebrates Jews’ freedom, survival, and perseverance. We observe the holiday for 8 days (in Israel, 7 days), and on the first 2 nights we have a special meal, called a Seder. Seder means “order”, because we partake in singing, blessing, praying, story telling, and eating in a very particular order throughout the meal.
In the middle of every Seder table is a round plate called a Seder Plate. On it sit 6 ingredients (described below). Print out your own plate to color here!
Shank Bone (Zaroah) : Represents the sacrificial lamb that was eaten by the Jews the night they escaped Egypt. It was also lamb’s blood that was used to mark the doorposts of the Jewish homes during the 10th plague; slaying of the first born.
Charoset : A sweet mixture of apples, walnuts and wine that symbolizes the sweetness of our freedom. It also symbolizes the mortar of the bricks that the Jewish slaves were forced to lay down. Note: apple, walnuts and wine is an Ashkenazic recipe. Sephardic Jews’ recipes often include sweet dried fruit such as raisins and dates.
Vegetable (Karpas) : Usually parsley, this vegetable is to be dipped in salt water before we eat it, symbolizing the salty tears shed by the Jewish slaves.
Egg (Beitzah) : Representing the whole chicken from which it came, it symbolizes the meat that was brought in for the Passover meal in the time of the Holy Temple.
Bitter Herbs (Maror) : This herb, usually horseradish, symbolizes the bitter life of the Jewish slaves. Some say that the tears that spring to your eyes when you eat Maror remind us of those of the enslaved Jews.
Bitter Herbs (Chazeret) : Another bitter herb, usually lettuce. This symbolizes the same as the horse radish.
Matzoh: The Matzoh is the unleavened bread that we eat during the Passover. When the Jews fled Egypt they did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise, and so for 8 days we don’t eat any food that rises or anything containing wheat, barley, oat, spelt or rye. While you might not find Matzoh on the seder plate, a stack of Matzot sits on the table. One of those pieces is called the Afikomen, and is hidden by an adult, later to be searched for and found by one of the younger attendees at the Seder. (That’s you! And make sure that grown up has prizes ready for you once you find it!)
Passover Symbols Match Game:
Print out the three pages below. Color in the images of the 10 plagues and Seder Plate symbols. Then cut along solid lines, shuffle, and play!