Panosh Kosher Catering
Panosh Kosher Catering
364 Lexington Dr
Buffalo GroveIL 60089
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The Symbolism and Traditions Behind Passover

The Symbolism and Traditions Behind Passover

At Passover, our culinary tradition (rich in symbolism) underscores the liberation of the Israelite slaves from the Egyptians and the journey they took to achieve their freedom. Their story is traditionally recited during the Seder dinner, which commemorates the first night of Passover.

Because the event is so important in the Jewish faith, it’s not surprising that so many families have developed their own traditions and special dishes to commemorate it, from unique Seder plates to specific dishes served during the Passover meal itself.  

Wine and Bread

While the festivities needn’t fall “flat” during Passover, the bread should. Non-yeasted, non-fermented bread such as matzah is a tradition, to honor the moment in which the Jews were forced to flee their homes before their bread dough had risen. Often three pieces are placed in the center of the table next to the Seder plate. It’s also traditional to avoid foods made from ingredients that ferment, especially spelt, barley, oats, wheat and rye.

As the Sedar progresses, four cups of wine (or grape juice) are served at specific parts of the gathering, as the four promises of God are named. Serving kosher red wine is traditional.

While the actual meal of Passover gatherings isn’t as fixed as the Seder plate tradition, brisket or roast chicken is common, as is matzo ball soup. Salads with bitter herbs and fruit-nut desserts are sometimes served as a way to underscore the symbolism of the Seder plate.

Seder Plate

The Seder plate is largely symbolic and an important part of the Passover tradition. Placed at the center of the table, a Seder plate usually has small indentations, set in a circular pattern around the plate, for each of the traditional ingredients:

  • An egg, sometimes roasted, which symbolized rebirth (Beitzah).
  • A lamb’s shank bone, to commemorate the original sacrifice of a lamb (Z'roa).
  • Bitter herbs, such as horseradish, to acknowledge the suffering of the slaves (Maror).
  • A second bitter herb, usually romaine lettuce, which is traditional in some households, though not all (Hazeret).  
  • A non-bitter herb or vegetable dipped in salt water to represent spring, as well as the tears of the slaves (Karpas).
  • A fruit-nut paste as symbolism of the bricks-and-mortar system of building the pyramids which the Jewish slaves were forced to use (Haroset).

The Passover Meal

While the actual meal of Passover gatherings isn’t as fixed as the Seder plate tradition, brisket or roast chicken is common, as is matzo ball soup. Salads with bitter herbs and fruit-nut desserts are sometimes served as a way to underscore the symbolism of the Seder plate. In addition, stewed prunes and carrots (tzimmes) as well as kugel, a delicious potato “pudding,” frequently grace Passover tables.  

If you’re hosting a Passover gathering this year, let us help you with the food. Whether you just want to round out your meal with a few extra dishes, or need us to provide the whole spread, Panosh Kosher Catering can create a meal that evokes the spirit of the holiday, while letting you relax and enjoy having your loved ones around you.