Planning a Traditional Seder
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 29, 2010)
In the Jewish religion, perhaps the single most important holiday is the Passover. As many people may remember, the Passover is when the Jewish exodus from Egypt is celebrated. While the Passover is actually an eight day celebration, the Seder feast is what is used to help celebrate this holiday, and to reenact the actual Exodus. As such, planning a traditional Seder is fairly easy, at least if you follow these guidelines.
- Get a copy of the Haggadah. To properly celebrate the Passover holiday, you will need to get a copy of the Haggadah, which is a book that has the rules and procedures for a Seder in it. This is very important, since things need to be done in a very specific way when celebrating a Seder. You can get an idea of how important if you stop and consider that the word "Seder" literally means "order."
- Create a guest list. An important part of celebrating a Seder is to have some guests. Don't limit your guest list to only Jewish members of your family, and friends. Part of the importance of the Seder is to remember that the Jews were once strangers in Egypt. In addition, this is an opportunity to share the rich history and tradition that is the Jewish culture, don't miss it.
- Decide the day. While the very first day of the Passover season is usually the most celebrated, that doesn't mean that is the only day that you can use. Instead, talk it over with your friends and family to determine when would be the best time to have your Seder.
- Create a menu. Traditional food and drink is an expected part of a traditional Seder, but don't worry since you will be able to choose from a wide variety of different foods. For example, you can have things like beef brisket, roasted turkey and chicken, hard-boiled eggs, candied carrots, potato kugel, chicken soup, gefilte fish, and matzo balls. Refrain from serving anything pork or any leavened bread (bread which has had yeast added) as they are forbidden. For a truly traditional Seder, be sure that you also remove any other Passover forbidden items from your kitchen before the season arrives.
- Don't forget the ceremonial items. Ceremony and tradition are an important part of the Seder feast, and this means that you will need to get a few items specifically for this. These items are usually kept on the Seder plate, and include the following: matzo (an unleavened bread), karpas (which is fresh parsley), maror (which is bitter herbs, such as horserasdish), charoset (which is an apple, nut, and honey dish), a lamb shank bone, and a roasted egg. In addition, you will also need to be sure that you have enough kosher-for-Passoverwine so that each person will be able to have four glasses.
- Prepare the readings. There will come a part of the Seder where you are expected to read some passages from the Haggadah. Make sure that you consider your guests when you are making your reading selections. They should be age appropriate if you have children. Ask your guests if they have any favorites, and incorporate them into the selection list.
- Prepare your table. While preparing the table for your meal, you need to make sure that you have enough seating for everyone plus one. This extra seat is traditionally reserved for the Prophet Elijah, in case of his return. There should also be a small pillow near the left arm of the Seder leader's chair, and small bowls of salt water for everyone to dip greens into. Finally, there should also be a small bowl and a towel which the Seder leader can use to wash their hands in if necessary.