Passover: a time where it is completely normal to eat matzah for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert (three words: chocolate-covered matzah). But, to be honest, until recently, I didn’t know much about the symbolism behind the foods on the Seder plate (besides the fact that Charoset may be one of the greatest foods ever invented). Read on to find out the meanings of the food so you can impress everyone at your Seder this year.
Zeroah: A Roasted Bone
This is the only form of meat on the Seder plate and represents the Pesach sacrifice that was made the night the ancient Jews fled Egypt. College student with no lamb shankbone? No worries, a chicken wing can work if you have to improvise. Vegetarian? Have no fear; a common substitution of the lamb shankbone is a roasted beet.
Beitzah: A Hard-Boiled Egg
The egg is used as the traditional food of mourning, to grieve the destruction of the Temple. It also represents one of the festival sacrifices performed and serves as a symbol of spring, the season when Passover is always celebrated (and when there should not be any more snow…).
Maror: Bitter Herbs
Horseradish is most commonly used for this aspect of the Seder Plate, but any type of bitter herb will do (tears are normal). This serves as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
Charoset: Apple, Walnuts, Red Wine
Charoset is evil. It tempts you during the service since it taste so damn good. A mixture of chopped apples, walnuts, and red wine, Charoset resembles bricks and mortar as a reminder of the hard, physical work endured by the slaves. Plan your strategy for how to take as much Charoset as possible beforehand .
A green vegetable other than a bitter herb (usually parsley) is dipped into salt water during the Seder to reminds us of the salty tears shed during slavery. The Karpas also symbolizes springtime since Jews celebrate Passover in the spring, and again, also a time when it should still not be this cold…
Chazeret: Romaine Lettuce
This is the second portion of bitter herbs eaten during the Seder. Romaine lettuce is often used to further remind us of the harsh and bitter slavery in Egypt.