Passover Food is especially prepared during the commemoration of the Jewish festival called ‘Passover.’ This festival is celebrated to mark the liberation of Israelites from Egyptian slavery and is considered as the most sacred day in Jewish culture. The Passover falls on the 15th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, which is during March or April in Gregorian Calender. This festival lasts for seven to eight days. Although this was originally celebrated by the ancient Israelites, it is commemorated even today by Jewish families. The Passover is marked by various traditional activities and feasts.
The Passover Meal
Although the Passover is meant to be celebrated, the Jews follow strict dietary prohibitions during the week. Only unleavened bread, known as matzo, is to be eaten on all eight days to symbolize the suffering of the Israelites during Egyptian bondage. The Passover festival is commenced with a special family meal on the 15th of Nissan. This special meal is called the Passover Seder.
The typical Passover meal contains six traditional dishes. The following is the significance of these six items:
Charoset – Nuts, apples, and spices are ground together and mixed with wine. This dish symbolizes the mortar which the Hebrews used to build Egyptian storehouses.
Maror – Bitter herbs, such as lettuce or horseradish. These signify the bitterness or harsh behavior of Egyptians towards the Israelites.
Karpas – A vegetable, such as parsley, is dipped in salt water. The salt water denotes the tears shed by the Hebrew slaves.
Beitzah – This is a roasted egg. Egg is a symbol of mourning in the Jewish culture. It could also be meant to mourn the destruction of Jewish temple in 70 AD.
Zeroa – The shank bone of a lamb. This signifies the paschal lamb offered as a sacrifice on ancient Passover celebrations during biblical times.
The sixth item, Matzo or unleavened bread, is placed in the middle of the table covered with a napkin. Breaking of matzo is also a tradition.
The seder meal also consists of four glasses of wine to symbolize the joy of freedom from the slavery.
Customary Way of Serving Passover Food
Seder table is traditionally set up to serve the Passover food. This is usually arranged on the 15th day of the Nisan month and attended by whole family or group of families.
An overview of how the passover meal is served:
· The head of the family initiates the ceremony. He takes the karpas, dips it in salt water, and passes it over to other family members.
· This is followed by removing the shank bone and the egg from the seder plate.
· After this, the youngest child asks four questions about the Passover, to which answers are recited
· Now, the unleavened bread and bitter herbs are consumed.
· A meal comprising of dishes made with matzah and boiled eggs is eaten. Desserts including ice cream and flourless cakes are also consumed.
· Wine is also drunk at particular intervals during the Seder meal.
· Prayers are recited and songs are sung at the conclusion of the Passover meal.