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Passover Food Traditions

L'Chayim! (To Life)

As you begin planning and preparing for Passover, we want to share some of the Passover recipes we have developed just for this special occasion. You'll find some old favorites as well as some new ideas to add to your Passover food traditions. We hope some of these dishes find their way onto your Seder table when you and your family celebrate Passover this spring.

Passover is a Time

Passover is a time for Jews around the world to remember the hardships and joys of a people who have observed their faith for thousands of years. During Passover, all generations of the family gather for the Seder meal. The Passover Seder includes foods that symbolize the Passover story, like unleavened bread and root vegetables. The Seder and the Passover food traditions help people remember and recreate, in some small measure, the hardships and sacrifices of their Jewish ancestors.

Passover Table

The table is set, like holiday meals everywhere, with fine linen, wine goblets, candles and flowers. Some families use a special set of china for their food for Passover, perhaps used only for this occasion. Among other Passover food traditions, the table also features other significant tableware such as the Seder Plate, Elijah's cup, a special matzos cover and, perhaps, a bowl and pitcher of water for the head of the table to wash hands.

Ancient Foods of Faith

Certain foods are central to the story of Passover. They help illustrate the Hagaddah (the story of Passover), which is read before the family enjoys its Seder dinner. The foods are presented on the Seder Plate, which is typically compartmentalized to hold the seven symbolic foods:



Is unleavened bread, much like a cracker, and is one of the most well-recognized Passover food traditions among people who are not Jewish. It represents what the Hebrews ate during their flight from Egypt. Because they left in such haste, the Hebrews did not have time to let dough rise for their bread. So they took the dough and "cooked" it on rocks heated by the sun. At the Seder, three Matzos are placed into the folds of the special Matzos cover. The Matzos in the center fold is broken in two pieces, symbolizing the parting of the Red Sea. The larger of the broken pieces, called the Afikomen, may be hidden for the children to find at the end of the dinner.



Is a roasted shankbone. It represents the Paschal lamb and deliverance of the people from slavery.

Roasted Egg


Is a hard-boiled egg whose shell has been blackened. As one of the symbolic foods for Passover, it represents life and rebirth. During the Seder ceremony, each person at the table may dip a hard-boiled egg in salt water to symbolize both the tears of oppression and joy of freedom.



Is a bitter herb, specifically freshly grated horseradish. It represents the hardships that Jewish ancestors had to endure, as slaves in Egypt as well as during the Holocaust. Those at the Seder table may participate in this Passover food tradition by eating the Maror between two pieces of matzos, or they may dip the Maror into the Haroseth to symbolize hardship and remember that bitterness is tempered by sweetness and joy.



Is a mixture of crushed nuts, apples, cinnamon and honey or wine. It represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to construct the Pharaoh's buildings.



Is a green vegetable, typically parsley, but it could also be celery or watercress. It represents the promise of Spring. People at the Seder table may dip the parsley in salt water to remind themselves of the bitter hardships of slavery, but that even in hardship, there is much for which to be grateful.

Salt Water


Represents the tears of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

These Passover food traditions hold great significance among the Jewish people. During the Seder, the food for Passover is also accompanied by songs and prayers, and each family’s dinner features its own unique flavors.