Passover is brimming with symbols of slavery and freedom.
SEDER NIGHT - The holiday is marked by the celebration of an elaborate Seder on the first two nights (in Israel, on the first night only). The Seder is designed to give each Jew the experience of "going from slavery unto freedom." As recorded in the Haggadah, we tell the Exodus storyand recount the Ten Plagues. We eat symbols of slavery and freedom, and the festive meal includes many delicious recipes for foods that people look forward to all year (think matzah balls!). We recite the Hallel prayer of praise, and end the Seder with the hope of “Next year in Jerusalem!”
The Seder is a special tie of family bonding and children are a particular focus of the night. They enjoy a variety of Passover songs like the Four Questions (Ma Nishatana), tell of the Four Sons, sing the “Dayenu” song, try to "steal" the Afikoman, and open the door for Elijah the Prophet.
MATZAH - At the Seder, it is a special mitzvah to eat matzah, the Seder’s main symbol. Everyone should try to eat 2/3 of a square matzah (or 1/2 of a round matzah) within 4 minutes, while leaning to the left. The most common reason for eating matzah is that on the morning of the Exodus, the Jews were so rushed in getting out of Egypt that the bread didn’t have time to rise. At the end of the festive meal, the special “dessert” is another piece of matzah, called the Afikoman.
FOUR CUPS - At the Seder, we drink four cups of wine -- corresponding to the four expressions of freedom mentioned in the Torah (Exodus 6:6-7). Everyone should have their own cup, which holds minimally 98cc (3.3 oz). Try to drink the entire cup for each of the Four Cups (or at least drink a majority) within 4 minutes. And as an expression of freedom, we lean to the left and back while drinking the Four Cups.
KARPAS - Toward the beginning of the Seder, we eat karpas -- a vegetable (e.g. celery, parsley, potato) dipped in saltwater, to commemorate the tears of hard labor.
BITTER HERBS - Later in the Seder, we eat Marror, the bitter herbs. Though many have the custom of using horseradish, Romaine lettuce is also used. (“Red horseradish” in jars bought from the stores should not be used, since it’s a mixture of mostly beets with some horseradish.) The Marror is dipped into Charoset, a bricks-and-mortar mixture of dates, wine, nuts and apples.