Passover is a holy day and festival commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery. It is also known as Festival of the Unleavened Bread. Faith has an excellent explanation of ridding the house of bread products or "chametz" during the Passover week.
My family considers itself "culturally Jewish". We certainly do not adhere to many of the strict rules of Judaism. Basically, we speak and understand a little Yiddish (the Jewish language, a mix of German and Hebrew), know where all the secular delicatessans in town are located and celebrate the major Jewish holidays in our non-religious way.
Just like last year, we will be convening at my cousin's house in Valencia for our family Seder. We all contribute to the meal. I'm in charge of the fruit compote, matzoh kugel and all of the ingredients for the traditional Seder plate. The Seder plate is the centerpiece of the dinner. The ingredients are: bitter herbs, symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery which the Jews endured in Egypt, Charosis, a sweet, brown, pebbly mixture made from apples, honey, nuts and wine, representing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt, Karpas, a vegetable other than bitter herbs, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley, celery or boiled potato is usually used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water (which represents tears) mirrors the pain felt by the Jewish slaves in Egypt, who could only eat simple foods. There is a roasted lamb or goat shankbone, chicken wing, or chicken neck and a roasted egg, symbolizing the Pesach sacrifice, which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple of Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Other families have alternate symbolic food that they display, but these are the basics. Of course, there is matzoh on the table, a crispy flatbread. When the Jews fled Egypt, there was no time to let the bread rise, that's why we eat unleavened bread for the holiday.
I've also compiled a family haggadah, which is the story of how Moses led the Jews to freedom. Our version is peppered with parodies of popular songs telling the ancient story, such as Take Us Out of Egypt (sung to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”), “Don’t Sit on the Afikomen” (sung to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) and that all-time favorite, The Ballad of the Four Sons (sung to the tune of “My Darling Clementine”). Over the years, I have found these songs online and from attending other seders. OK, OK, so we're not too traditional! At least we get together, honor the story, eat excellent food and sing some songs!
To turn this post into one about yarn, I was cruisin' ravelry the other day and found some excellent knitted and crocheted versions of the traditional Seder plate. I just might have to work on this for next year's Seder. Happy Pesach to you and have a grand weekend.
Knitted Seder Plate and Felted Matzoh Ball Soup by tikkunknitter
Labels: At Home, family, Food, yarny stuff