Springtime ceremonies serve to highlight Jewish history.
Judaism is a religion that puts great importance on the preservation of ancient traditions, history and ritual. This is apparent in Jewish Springtime holidays known as the Festival of the Unleavened Bread or Passover. These rituals recall important history that Jewish religion serves to commemorate in this case remembering and re-living of the exodus of the Jewish people through the desert when they left Israel.
One important element to a passover meal is the setting of the Passover Seder table which requires care and attention to traditional Passover related details. For example the cups, glasses, and plates and special foods used and tasted during the ceremony.
Most families already have a special glass Seder plate, sometimes an heirloom Seder plate for the Passover ceremony as well as Passover table decoration.
The word 'Sedar' actually means 'order' in Hebrew, further accentuating the importance of the order Jewish tradition calls for during Passover table preparation and celebrations. There are 8 days total that make up the Passover Holiday rituals. The first two nights are nights when family and friends gather for lavish meals preceded and followed by stories, songs, prayers and the history of Passover.
The Passover Sedar table and glass Sedar plate are the central props throughout all of these festivities. To start with, a Sedar table setting will include the best table cloth and festival candles. A Kiddush cup for ceremonial wine should be supplied for the leader of the Passover celebration which will include four toasts with cups of red wine during the total duration of the evening. The Sedar food platters will contain things like roasted shank bone, Korech sandwiches, parsley, hard boiled eggs and charoset which is a mixture of fruits nuts and wine and are served with bitter herbs like horseradish or romaine lettuce. Hence, a big part of the Sedar decoration and props are the food itself and this is very true of three Matzahs which should be set on the table in front of the leader along with the Kiddush cup and wine. Finally a Haggadah or Passover prayer book should be set for each guest along with their wine glass and plates.
There are of course variations on these Passover table settings. For example some families set out a fourth matzah which they refer to as, 'the matzah of hope' that symbolizes Jews that live in lands that are not yet free and may still face persecution and oppression.
- The meanings behind passover foods are quite interesting: Horseradish and Romaine lettuce are the two bitter tasting herbs that remind Jewish people of the bitterness and hardships of slavery that Jews are said to have endured in Ancient Egypt.
- 'Karpas' refers to the non bitter vegetables that are served as appetizers. These are usually dipped in little cups of salt water which is also often set on the table. This salt water represents the tears that have been shed by Jewish ancestors who were enslaved or mistreated. Sometimes these appetizers are dipped in vinegar or wine by Yemenite Jews.
- Charoset is the sweet mixture of fruits, wine and nuts but ironically are said to represent the mortar that Jewish slaves used to build the storehouses in Egypt, perhaps because of the pebbly sticky consistency of the dish.
- Roasted lamb bone, otherwise known as 'Zeroh', symbolizes a lamb that was sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem and was eaten on Sedar night as was the 'Beitzah' which is the boiled egg.
- The 'Aficoman' is the desert which is hidden away for when after the meal is eaten. Sometimes this desert is hidden for the children to find which serves as an incentive to keep the children engaged during the whole passover meal in order to soak in the history and lore that fill the whole passover dinner experience.