Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated holiday of the Jewish calendar. The scattering of Jews to nearly every continent over thousands of years means the diversity of Seder customs is as diverse as the cultures of our global Jewish family.


Many Jewish families bury their dishes to purify them. In Ethiopia they smash their dishes and make a new set to use for Pesach and the next 12 months. Matza is also homemade, fashioned from chickpea powder, and served soft like tortillas, They also refrain from eating yoghurt, butter and cheese.


During the singing of Dayenu, seder participants will whip each other around the shoulders with bunches of scallions, spring onions or shallots, representing the cruel whips of the Egyptian overseers.


Hasidic Jews from the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria re-enact the crossing of the Red Sea on the seventh day of Passover by pouring water on the floor, lifting up their coats, and naming the towns that they would cross in their region of Poland. They raise a glass to each town and thank G-d for helping them reach their destination.


This custom began in or around the 14th Century, and is now practised in Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. The Seder leader walks around the table three times with the Seder plate in hand, tapping it on the head of each guest. It’s said to bring blessing and luck to those whose heads are tapped.


At the part of the Haggadah that says, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”, Jews in Romania fill a pillowcase with heavy objects and carry it around the table, with each person at the Seder taking a turn.


Jews from Aden in Yemen traditionally eat eggs as the main dinner course at their Seders. These days, the Adenim have more substantial meals, but some families still opt for eggs in a variety of forms, from fried to hard boiled to omelettes. Instead of a Seder plate they place the symbolic items directly on the table or in small bowls in front of each person.


Jewish residents of the British Territory of Gibraltar spice up their charoset by adding actual brick dust to the mixture.


The Passover text suggests that the Egyptians gave gold and jewels to the Israelites as a way of bribing them to hasten their exodus from Egypt. In certain parts of Hungary therefore they lay precious jewelery on the Seder table and wear their best baubles to the meal.


At Turkish Seders each person takes a parsley sprig and recites a verse in Arabic. As each word is said, guests bless each other, holding the parsley and wishing every person a blessing for the year.  


Most Seders welcome Elijah by leaving a door open and pouring a special cup of wine. In India a second cup of wine is poured for Pharaoh, and is divided amongst the Seder guests to symbolize Pharaoh’s loss of power over the Jewish people. 

Finally, this interesting one comes from a blog on Pesach practices. “As Jews of Indian-Iraqi-Syrian ancestry, we chant each paragraph of the Haggadah in both Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic, a combination of Hebrew and Arabic. We use romaine lettuce instead of horseradish; a thick date syrup called halek for haroset; celery leaves instead of parsley for karpas; lemon juice instead of salt water.”

We all do this festival a little differently, but when you sit down to your seder consider that millions of families share this experience with you, sit down to tell the same story, engage in a family meal, and celebrate the birth of the Jewish nation from the midst of slavery.