I love Passover. Over the years it has become one of my favorite holidays. There are very few holidays that require you eat and drink very specific foods by the big man himself, and I just happen to love all of the obligatory noshes pertaining to the holiday (don't mock gefilte fish until you've tried it). The foods, however, are not the only reason Passover is the king of holidays.
The traditions practiced during the seder are bizarre, to say the least, and require a flair for the dramatic. One of the oddest moments that occur during the Passover seder is the entrance of an invisible person, Elijah. Elijah was a prophet and a great defender of the faith. To honor him, a seat is left open at the seder dinner with a full glass of wine. At some point during the evening, Elijah shows up and takes a swig. In my house, he used to eat some matzah too and leave crumbs all over the place. That messy Elijah! When does this magical moment happen? I couldn't tell you. He is a Jewish version of Santa, but everyone is wide awake when he passes by. How this invisible man manages to come in and drink and eat without anyone noticing could be due to the copious amounts of wine being consumed.
Another one of the many reasons to love Passover is that drinking wine is incorporated into the action. It's a holiday that comes ready-built with its own drinking game. You take one sip, you stick your finger in, you take another sip -- eventually you are four glasses deep.
Another memorable aspect to the evening is finding the afikoman, which is just a piece of matzah fancily wrapped. It's the Jews' answer to the Easter egg hunt, but we don't get jellybeans and plastic grass when we find this traditional symbol. We get money, which kicks a Cadbury Egg's ass any day of the week.
Despite the aforementioned highlights, there is one major drag to the Passover seder: It takes like five hours! And you are just sitting there starving while having to read the same book you read every year. The ending is always the same, so why not get to the eating more quickly?
The Passover seder does not have to be a snooze fest. There are plenty of ways to liven up the plague-filled mood. Incorporate any of these items into your seder and watch the fun pile on like charoset on a matzah!
5. Make Some Funny Seder Shirts
Head over to Café Press or one of those print-your-own-shirt Web sites and make a batch of seder-themed shirts for the whole family to wear! Here are a few ideas if you cannot think of your own: "Get Your Own Cup, Elijah!" "Where's the Bread?" "How Big Are Your Matzah Balls?" "Stop Asking Me All These Questions, I'm Just Here For the Kugel." "One Manischewitz, Two Manischewitz, Three Manischewitz, Floor!"
4. Change Up the Four Questions
Every Passover seder finds the youngest member of the family asking four very specific questions, including but not limited to, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" and "On all other nights, we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight we eat only bitter herbs," among others.
Mix it up! Let's get some crazy questions in there and find out if all the answers really can be found in the haggadah as we've been told. A few questions you might slip in could be, "Why is this night oddly similar to the Passover we had last year?" or "On all other nights, Uncle Maury drinks so much he passes out in front of the TV, but tonight, he drinks so much he passes out at the dinner table," or "How do I stop receiving notifications from certain friends' Facebook updates once I have set that up?" or come up with your own. 3. Find the Afikoman and Then Rehide It So Your Grandma Thinks She Is Losing It
You are probably at the age where you are no longer allowed to find the afikoman. At my grandmother's house the cut-off was 12, because you know, at 13 you are a man/woman. Why should the kids have all the fun? Prove that you are still just as immature as you were at ten by making whoever hid the matzah think they are totally going senile. Fun!
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2. Incorporate One of the Ten Plagues
Who could fault you for trying to have a more authentic seder by incorporating one of the ten plagues? While unhealable boils or the death of the first-born might be tough to pull off, letting loose a bunch of frogs or shutting off a circuit breaker so that there is no light could be easy and fun! The fourth plague consisted of flies or wild animals; this is Texas, it can't be that difficult to find either/or.
1. Invite Your Bread-Loving Gentile Friends
It would be pretty hilarious if you invited some non-Jewish friends to your family seder and each one of them brought, as a gift, some sort of bread item. One after one, your friends show up to your parents' home leavened-loaves in hand. Sure, your parents will be pissed then, but they'll have free bread for months to come!