This time of the year means so much to so many different people. Around the corner are many religious holidays which people all around the world will be celebrating! These festivities bring with them a large and colourful range of food and traditions. One of these is one of the most important in the Jewish religion: Passover. This is a spiritual time between the 19th and 27th of April this year, celebrating the Jewish liberation from slavery under the rule of Egypt. The event is most synonymous with the story of Exodus, as it is the final plague that befalls the Egyptian people. Moses told the Hebrews to mark their houses with lamb’s blood to show God they were to be passed over and spared from the killing of the firstborn son. During Passover, Jews are not allowed to eat leavened products such as pasta, bread and cereals. This is because when the slaves fled from Egypt, they did not have enough time to let their bread rise. It is traditional to remove all leaven from the house before Passover starts, symbolising the removal of arrogance and pride from the soul. Food is quintessential to this festival which lasts eight days.
The first and last two days are set aside as rest days. One of the special meals is known as the Seder meal. The appetiser for this meal is a small piece of vegetable (such as a bit of onion or boiled potato) which is blessed and then dipped in salt water. The Seder Plate is a special plate with unique cutlery where each member of the table eats clockwise around the dish. This meal is composed of lettuce, lamb bone, charoset (a paste of apples and nuts), horseradish with beetroot paste, celery and roasted egg. During this meal unleavened bread is eaten three times symbolically and four cups of wine are drunk, in order to symbolise the four times God promised freedom, with an additional cup which is left for Elijah, the prophet. This food is eaten in a reclined position to celebrate their freedom. This is then followed by a feast known as Shulchan Orech. This feast is customarily started by the dipping of the egg into the salt water.
Different traditions occur within different communities and families, however, it’s renowned by all as a very important festival which is intertwined with food and eating traditions. So in order to wish someone a happy Passover you can easily say ‘Happy Pesach’ or ‘Chag Sameach’!
by Eleanor Maunder