If you don't know anything about Passover, you will after you read this. Since I was raised in a Jewish household, I've observed this holiday almost every year of my life (exceptions include college and living abroad). It's the time of year when we remember our ancestors who were slaves in Egypt a very long time ago (anybody seen "The Prince of Egypt" or "The Ten Commandments"?). The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, and they escaped to freedom. That's the story in a nutshell.
Every year, Jewish families gather for the first two of the eight nights of Passover. We have a seder, where we sit around a table and retell the story of the exodus. It sounds a little lame, but I find it to be a lot of fun. There is a leader (my uncle or grandpa always lead), and then there are also participant readings so that everybody can be involved. There is food and singing involved, and, as many people love, there are four glasses of wine. That's right. During the service, we are instructed to fill and drink our wine glass four times. If you are a kiddie or just don't want to drink wine, there is plenty of grape juice to go around.
Below: me and my mom before the seder on night one. Doesn't my hair look curly?
On my sharing plate, there was matzo with horseradish and charoset, a matzo and horseradish sandwich and a very bland piece of matzo (called the afikomen, which means "dessert") to eat later.
We have the same food every year. We start with a hold boiled egg, and then we have gefilte fish. It's a pickled fish that probably comes from the Eastern European origin. Since my Jewish heritage goes back to Eastern Europe, we always eat this stuff at holidays. It's salty and slimy and has a really thick goopy sauce, but I can't get enough of it. Ask most American Jews, and they will tell you that they love it. When other people try it, though (my poor Alastair), they are usually utterly repulsed. I've been eating it since I was a baby, and I think it's fantastic.
I usually eat it with some red horseradish on the side.
We also have passed platters of brisket and chicken, as well as matzo kuggel.
There are other traditions that I didn't touch on, like the kids hiding the afikomen and not giving it back to the adults until they negotiate for money, holding up finger puppets to represent the ten plagues (okay, I think that's just my family) and opening the door so that our invisible prophet friend Ellijah can join us for our meal.
I have one more recap to do from home, and it has something to do with long dresses that are white! Woohooo!!!