Catholic Activity: The Passover Meal: 3. Meal Preparation
Arleen Hynes discusses the different symbolic foods necessary for a traditional but Christianized seder meal, including roasted lamb, matzohs, bitter herbs, haroses, greens, water with salt, and wine (or grape juice for children).
The room is prepared for a truly festive occasion. The table or tables are set with the best silver, dishes, linen and flowers. The children may make large banners on shelf paper of the Paschal lamb, breads on a platter, the Last Supper, phrases from the scriptures, chalices, loaves and fishes, brick walls to symbolize the slavery of the Jews, and marked doorposts or any other gaily colored symbolic pictures of their own making. In this way the children can enjoy a creative experience, decorate the home or hall and learn through symbolism. A wine glass (or grape juice for the young children) is set before each place. The centerpiece is a white frosted cake, molded in the shape of a lamb, or an angel food cake whose circular shape symbolizes eternal life. A candle is placed at the head of the table.
The food for the meal is carefully prepared and served, announcing to all present that this is indeed a special feast. If possible, the menu contains the symbolic foods which are required for the feast of the Passover.
The Seder Plate
Jewish custom arranges on one plate the symbolic food used during the service. If the ecumenical gathering of family and friends is large, small bowls of these foods will also be placed at intervals in easy reach of all. On the Seder plate or tray are arranged several items.
The bone from the roasted leg of lamb is always at the Jewish table and may be on ours. It symbolizes the sacrificial lamb offered by the Israelites and was eaten on the eve of their departure from Egypt. Whether we actually eat lamb at this meal or not, Christians have retained the symbolism of the Lamb of God.
Matzos, in memory of the unleavened bread which the Jews ate when they were freed from Egypt. (If you cannot obtain Matzos use white crackers, placing the whole sheet on the table so that portions may be broken off.)
Bitter herbs, for the bitterness of slavery. Horseradish or spring radishes may be used.
Haroses, a food made of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, chopped and mixed together to look like the mortar which the Hebrew slaves used in their servitude.
Greens, parsley or watercress, used as a token of gratitude to God for the products of the earth.
Water with salt added in another small dish is needed into which to dip the greens and bitter herbs.
Activity Source: Passover Meal, The by Arleen Hynes, Paulist Press, 1972