Seder is a Jewish feast taking place at the beginning of Passover. From matzah ball soup to symbolic wine cups, here’s a look at Seder traditions.

WHILE MOST JEWISH ceremonies take place in a synagogue, Seder is traditionally a family gathering at home. A Seder follows a service outlined in a Jewish text called the Haggadah, which recounts the Exodus from Egypt, with vibrant scenes of plagues, enslavement, and Moses parting the Red Sea.

As different parts of the story are told (usually with the oldest man leading the service, and special parts called out for the youngest children), different foods are eaten from the Seder plate, such as maror (“bitter herbs” for slavery), and charoset (sweet apple-nut paste representing the “mortar” of the bricks), each food symbolizing a different element of the story.

The most iconic of all of the foods is Matzo, or flat, unleavened bread, symbolizing the speed with which the slaves had to leave Egypt – no time for bread to rise. In the Haggadah it is called the “bread of affliction.” A piece of Matzo – called the Afikomen – is usually hidden for after the meal. The children have to find it, and then get presents.


Seder plate

1. The Seder plate contains 6 traditional food items including maror and chazeret (bitter herbs), charoset (fruit and nut paste), karpas (bitter vegetable), z'roa (roasted lamb or chicken), beitzah (roasted egg). Photo: Robert Couse-Baker


Girl with matzo

2. Young girl holds a piece of matzo, unleavened cracker like bread. During passover, eating bread and leavened products is restricted. Photo: SpecialKRB



3. According to Seder ritual, families read narratives and blessings from the Haggadah, a Jewish text. Photo: Martin Lewkowicz


Matzah Ball Soup

4. Matzah ball soup, dumplings in chicken broth, is traditionally served during Passover. Photo: Robert Banh


Grocery store with kosher food

5. A grocery store advertises kosher foods. Photo: Matt Hampel


Celebrating seder with family

6. The Haggadah calls for 4 cups of wine during the Seder service. Photo: Jennie Faber


Symbolic cups for Miriam and Elijah

7. Many Jewish families display wine cups for prophets Miriam and Elijah. Elijah represents redemption and Miriam symbolizes renewal. Photo: Shoshanah


Frogs at seder table setting

8. Children arrange a table setting with frogs to represent a plague of frogs overtaking Egypt. Photo: kthread


Christian seder table setting

9. Recognizing the significance of Jewish heritage, it's becoming more common for Christians to celebrate Seder at the start of Holy Week. A cross is included in the table setting. Photo: hoyasmeg


Passover approved catfood

10. Even cats can eat kosher during passover. Photo: Violette79