Passover, which is known as ‘Pesach’ in Hebrew, begins this Friday. Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt.
During the first two nights, Passover is celebrated with a home ritual known as the Passover seder. The seder, which means ‘order’ in Hebrew, is celebrated around a dinner table and includes the retelling of the Passover story from the Torah (which is the Old Testament.) The food and wine is blessed, Passover symbols are deciphered and freedom and social justice is discussed, all while singing and eating takes place.
Food is enormously important at Passover and carries much symbolism, history and culinary expression. Here are a few of the platters that are served and what they represent:
Matzah is unleavened bread eaten during Passover. When the Israelites learned that the pharaoh had given them leave to exit Egypt, they didn’t want to wait for their bread to rise in case he changed his mind. Therefore matzah symbolised the Jewish people’s hasty transition to freedom.
Karpas is a green leafy vegetable, usually parsley, which represents the fact that the Jews initially thrived when they got to Egypt. It was only with the commencement of the reign of a new pharaoh, who was threatened by the growing size of the Israelite community, that they were enslaved. This turn of events is commemorated during the Seder by dipping the karpas into bitter salt water, which represents the tears shed by the Israelites.
This is a paste-like mixture of fruits, nuts and sweet wine or honey. It is symbolic of the mortar used by the Israelite slaves when they laid bricks for the pharaohs’s monuments.
If you have any Jewish friends, don’t forget to say ‘chag sameach’ to them which translates to ‘happy festival’ and is the Hebrew equivalent of ‘happy holidays.’
Maybe we should consider a new Israeli Munchachos snack based on one of these traditional meals? What do you think? Or do you have any suggestions for our next country of inspiration?