Passover 2022: Foods That Are Symbolic Of The Jewish Festival
Image Credit: Instagram/gourmetgirlsmd

Beginning on April 15th and ending on April 23rd this year, Passover is a eight-day holiday that commemorates the freedom that Jewish people attained from slavery in Egypt. The first two nights of Passover see the Seder, a ritual that involves reading from the Haggadah and placement of certain food items on a plate at the table. These food items add a sensory element to the retelling of the Passover story, leading to an experience that goes beyond mere words. 

The Seder plate is an integral part of the ritual and Passover dinner. It is a special plate with six spaces allocated for each of the food items that signify something. Seder plates may be made of china, silver or even paper that has been decorated. Symbolic foods may vary from household to household, but the egg, lamb shank bone and horseradish remain constant. Foods that are symbolic of the festival include: 


Charoset (pronounced har-o-set) has been derived from the Hebrew word ‘cheres’, which means ‘clay’. It is a sweet, dark paste made with apples, dried fruit, nuts, cinnamon and wine, which is meant to symbolise the mortar used by the Jewish people when they were constructing 


Horseradish or a bitter herb is used to signify how bitter slavery was for the Jewish people. Maror may be a piece of fresh horseradish or a spoonful of it. Korech, a sandwich made with maror and two pieces of matzo (unleavened flatbread) is part of the ritual. 


A second bitter herb that’s often romance lettuce or endive, chazeret is included on the Seder plate by some families. Other people may use two servings of horseradish instead, while some others may not include it at all. Chazeret may also be used in making korech. 


Zeroah is essentially a roasted lamb shank bone, which symbolises the korban Pesach, or the lamb that was offered in the Temple of Jerusalem, and the outstretched arm of God. Sometimes, the lamb bone is replaced by a chicken neck or wing. Zeroah is traditionally not eaten. 


A hard-boiled or roasted egg is used to symbolise life or existence. This egg is meant to be eaten during the Passover meal, after being dipped in saltwater that signified the tears shed by the Jewish people. 


Parsley or celery is used as karpas to signify redemption and hope. Accompanied by a bowl of salted water in Ashkenazi households or vinegar in Sephardic communities, karpas is dipped into the saltwater or vinegar and then eaten.