Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Different Night

Last year, we hosted our first Passover Seder as a married couple.  Since no one keeled over from boredom, we reprised our efforts this year . . . but with double the guests, each with different levels of observance.  Goy vey.

It took me two days to prepare the meal (more on the menu in my next post), but all in all, it was a really fun, beautiful night.

Our unique twist on the seder is that each guest uses a different haggadah; this way, each person has access to a different spin on the traditional text.  But we also like the idea of having a few readings and songs that are shared by all the guests.  So we compiled our own supplemental haggadah, in which we collected our favorite versions of certain readings.  That's our supplemental haggadah tucked inside the napkin above.

Since there was a torrential downpour outside (hence the dark photos), I brought a little sunshine in with the yellow runner and napkins and the bud vases of pink and yellow ranunculus.

In my pre-Passover shopping, I came across the awesome Bag of Plagues, which comes with a symbol of each of the ten plagues.  My favorite?  A pair of sunglasses, representing the plague of darkness.  The trippiest one, incidentally, was the jigsaw puzzle that represented the death of the first-borns.  I can't decide if it's totally random or if it's just far too ingenious for me to understand.

Anyway, I attached a paper ribbon with each guest's name onto the symbols and used them as quirky placecards.

The more traditional items on our seder table included the seder plate, filled with symbolic items like charoset, an apple and walnut mixture that represents the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses of Egypt; marror, the bitter herbs that represent the bitterness of slavery; and a shankbone, which represents the Pascal lamb offered at the Temple as a sacrifice.  Since ours is a vegetarian-friendly seder, we substituted a Pascal yam in lieu of the lamb bone.

Also on the table is lots of matzoh, the unleavened bread we eat throughout the Passover holidays.  For everyday meals, we use square matzoh, which is machine-made.  But for our seder, I bought shmurah matzoh, which is handmade and round.  It also, unfortunately, tasted like stale, chewy cardboard.  Blech.

As a literature buff, I love the rich symbolic and storytelling aspects of Passover.  Sure, we all know how the story ends, but each year we still manage to find parts of it that resonate in fresh and unexpected ways.  I also love that Passover gives us an excuse to get together with friends and family and sing songs loudly and off-key.  Sure enough, the more wine we drank, the louder and more off-key we got.

Of course, in addition to the drinking and the reading, we also ate . . . a lot.  More on the festive menu in my next post.

Did you celebrate Passover this year?


Sugar March 30, 2010 at 1:40 PM  

We had a mini-celebration at home. Love what you did. You're so cute!!

Jessebel [ frequently full ] March 30, 2010 at 7:35 PM  

I didn't but your pictures make me wish that was not the case. :)

violarulz/ducksandbooks April 2, 2010 at 12:22 AM  

I love it! The pascal YAM. We had a piece of paper folded into a fan with a twist in it so that it maybesortakinda looked like a drumstick or something. Maybe we had the pascal FAN and didn't even know it!

PS- it is SO time for bed.

Mrs. Hot Cocoa April 2, 2010 at 12:33 AM  

@ Sugar: Isn't passover fun?

@ Jessebel: If you were here in Boston, we'd totes have you over for some pascal yam!

@ violarulz: Pascal fan! Loves it. At the seder we went to the second night, they had a pascal beet, which is what I guess the Talmudic authorities say is an appropriate substitute for the shank bone. But I'll take the pun over the Talmud. ;-)

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