Thursday, April 9, 2009

Post-Pesach/ Passover

Well, last night's Passover seder was a success. The whole thing was over pretty quickly, since it was just the five of us (just around 3 hours), the service was fun and relaxed (we had loads of fun taking movies with the Flip! Such an awesome camera. I wonder what kind of movie-mix that'll turn out), and the food was rather good. I don't know though... I kind of wished that we were able to cook some stuff, like maybe mashed potatoes or something. Still, I enjoyed myself.

So right now, I just want to explain some of those Passover mysteries that outsiders to my religion are curious about. ^,~
Seder, in Hebrew, means "order". Nearly everything you do on Passover must have a certain order to it. It has many traditions, rituals and songs you're required to perform. Now, my family isn't super religious, so we may interpret the rules differently from other Jewish families. For example, I'm ashamed to say that we didn't manage to get rid of all the bread in the house, which is something you're supposed to do. We have an entire bag of my dad's homemade bread and 3 more bagels in the freezer. -,- I know, Brian. Not good. But I figure that all we have to do is stay well away from the bread, never think about it, and pretend like it's not there. I'm sure God will forgive us.
Matzah is basically a speed-baked bread which doesn't have time to rise. It's commonly square shaped, but there are some who eat round matzah. Matzah is like a large, tasty cracker that you eat instead of regular bread. You can use it to make sandwiches, though it's very crumby and messy, so you should be careful if you hate that sort of thing. Matzah is available all year round, so you can eat it whenever you want. It's just that around Passover, you can't eat any breadstuffs, so Matzah is what you use as substitution. I expect some people get tired of that after a week, so that when they finally are allowed to eat bread again they wish that they never have to eat matzah again until next year, when you have to.
This all-special Seder plate is one of the things a seder cannot be without. It represents a few special things about Passover, that I'll try to explain. There are 6 symbols on the plate, which don't necessarily have to be formed in this order:

1: The hard-boiled egg, which is supposed to represent Spring or something (kind of like Easter does);

2: The bone, to represent the paschal lamb that was sacrificed, I think (usually you're supposed to use a chicken bone or something, but we just used a bone that I found in the street. I know, yuck, right? I remember I used to collect bones just for that purpose when I was younger...);

3: The bitter herb, or Maror in Hebrew, which is usually some horseradish. It symbolizes the bitterness the slaves felt in Egypt (I hope you know the story from the bible). At one point in the seder, you have to eat some Maror on Matzah, so you can suffer at least a fraction of what the Jews suffered. Trust me. That bitter taste does make you suffer.

4: The Charoset, which is this sweet, tasty mix of blended apples, dates, nuts and wine/ grape juice (everyone has their own recipe) that represents the mortar of the bricks the slaves had to build and lift all the time to build the Egyptian pyramids. This is the tastiest part of Passover. You'd love it on matzah, I can guarantee you that.

5: The Karpas, which means the vegetable you use to dip in salt water somewhere in the Seder, to represent the tears the slaves cried in Egypt. I love dipping small potatoes in salt water, but this time we used celery and baby carrots.

6: I'm not really sure why there's a 6th one, but it's just another bitter herb to go with the Maror. The difference between the 2 is that you eat the Maror, and the other you leave alone on the plate.
Nope, not really. There's a game in the middle of the Seder, after you have the big feast, where a piece of matzah, called the Afikoman, is hidden somewhere in the room and (depending on your tradition) either the leader of the Seder, usually a Grandpa or something, or the children participating, have to hunt for it. If the kids look for it, the one that finally finds it demands a reward from the leader, because the Seder cannot continue until everyone has eaten the Afikoman. The kid can like, hold the Passover guests hostage until he gets a good reward. My brother, Adam, found the Afikoman quickly, but he was quickly appeased by my dad with $20. My sister and I also recieved $20 each, even though we didn't join the hunt.
And that's it! That's all I have to offer by way of answers about this holiday. I hope you're all satisfied. ^,~


Brian said...

Post!!!???!!! There's still another seder if you forgot!

Magenta said...

Sorry. My family doesn't choose to do 2 seders. Way too much hassle. It doesn't make sense to me. See, Jacoby, some families believe in doing 2 seders, and others don't. I don't. Don't know why that's the way, but it is.

J.N. Future Author said...

wow! Omg I have done that before! In my seminary class we did that last year! I remember now!

^.^ Thank you for giving all those descriptions and such! it was a huge help in my understanding!

Q said...

So do other families have a seder at the start and end of Passover?

Magenta said...

No Q. When families have two seders, they have them one after the other, back-to-back. I don't know, maybe it's in case they get the dates wrong or something. No offense to Brian, but personally, I think it's a bit idiotic, really.