Seder means order and the meal follows strict ritual forms. The Seder
is held at home, and follows a thorough cleansing of the house of
all leavened products. At Passover, the table arrangement is done according to
ritual, as well.
To honor and maintain the memory
of their ancestors, the story of the flight is read from a book called
the Haggadah as a ritual part of the Passover meal. At the reading of the Haggadah, four questions are asked, each to preserve the memory of the Exodus: Why is this night different from all other nights?
Why do we eat bitter herbs?
Why do we dip our food two times?
Why do we eat lying down?
Wine is served with the seder meal and has a ritual aspect, one which also is to honor the memory of the Exodus. Remembering the ten plagues which were brought on Egypt, each person at the passover table dips a finger in the wine. One drop of wine is removed for each plague.
Jewish dietary laws are complex, however, there are
a few primary strictures at Passover. The first is to refrain from
eating Chametz or Hametz, (leavened food) at this meal and Matzo becomes an integral
part of the cooking. Legumes and grains are also avoided.
Some foods are required in ritual:
three whole matzos, a roasted lamb shank, a green herb, such as parsley
to signify rebirth, bitter herbs, such as horseradish as a reminder
of the bitter time, and a roasted egg symbolizing life. Passover continues
for 8 days.