A Seder plate is central to the Passover Seder. It sits as the centerpiece of the table, and is referred to a number of times during the Seder itself. In fact, many people have a few Seder plates if they have a big crowd at the Passover meal, so that all guests have access to it on the Seder table. Here are some questions and answers about the Seder plate.
Q: Does the Seder plate need to be special, or can it be just a plate?
A: You can use any plate as long as the required foods are placed on it. That said, many families have a special one for the Seder that has a designated marking for each symbolic food. Some Seder plates have small bowls that go on them, or indentations for the Seder foods. Whether you have one of these or not, use a beautiful plate. Dinner-sized is fine, but larger could be a good choice as well.
Q: What needs to be on the Seder plate?
A: There are six main Seder foods on the plate. They are: a roasted egg, a vegetable, parsley or celery, charoset, maror and a roasted lamb bone.
Q: What is charoset?
A: Charoset is a mixture of chopped apples, cinnamon, walnuts and sweet wine, which represents mortar used during slave labor. Some people vary the recipe, changing the nuts, or adding other dried fruits, honey, molasses or bananas.
Q: What is maror?
A: Maror is bitter herb, representing the bitterness of slavery. Most families use horseradish, either raw or processed.
Q: What is a roasted egg? Hard boiled?
A: First you hard boil the egg in its shell, and then you bake it (in the toaster oven is a good way) until the shell has a scorched look. This is not eaten, but symbolizes the festival sacrifices done at the time of the Temple on Passover.
Q: Why a roasted lamb bone? Do you eat this?
A: Roast either a lamb shankbone or a chicken bone. This is not eaten. It represents the sacrifice of the lamb in the Passover story, or the sacrifice in the Temple that was done in those times, but is no longer practiced.
At the Passover meal, traditionally the meal is eaten and the story of Passover told in a certain order, called a Seder. The word "Seder" means "order" and refers to the steps of the order of the Seder meal itself.
A symbolic element of the two Passover meals, known as Seders, is the four cups of wine. Wine, in Jewish tradition, is a symbol of joy, but the four cups of wine at the Passover Seder have additional meanings.
The Passover Seder is designed with children in mind. The Four Questions, in fact, are specifically assigned to the youngest child present who is able to recite them. In history, children's questions were always encouraged because the Seder is meant to be for teaching children, and each other, the meaning of freedom and gratitude.