Holidays & Events, Spotlight|March 11, 2012 1:58 PM

What is Seder Plate?

The Jewish holiday of Passover is one of the most symbolic festivals in the Jewish calendar.

There is no better way to explain its meaning that through the unique Seder plate that is used to celebrate the festival.  Passover itself is an eight day holiday, beginning on 15th of the Jewish month is Nisan.  Jewish families across the world gather on the first night of the festival and re-tell the story of the Exodus, the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom.  It is an ancient tradition, known as the Seder, which is documented in an historic text called the haggadah.  It uses all kinds of symbols in order to tell the story.

Central to this telling of the story is the Seder plate, on which are placed a number of symbolic items.  There are bitter herbs, which recall the bitterness of slavery.  There is also a tasty paste, which represents the cement used by the Israelites to build as slaves.  A bone symbolizes the final meal eaten by the Israelites before their escape.  An additional vegetable is dipped in salty water to represent the tears of slavery, while an egg is a sign of mourning.  The Passover plate on which these items are placed is usually decorative and beautifully crafted.

During Passover, Jews traditionally refrain from eating bread, to remember that the Israelites left Egypt hurriedly and had no chance to bake bread for the journey.  Instead, they eat matzah, a form of dry crackers.  During the seder, matzah is placed in a special Seder tray and is eaten by all the participants.  In addition to telling the story of the holiday, the Seder is also a celebratory festive meal, helping make Passover a fun festival for everyone.

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