The Passover Seder


This is a miniature illumination taken from the start of Barcelona Haggadah of c.1340. Passover is a Jewish festival that commemorates the freedom of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The Haggadah is the book that tells this story, and it is read during the Passover meal (or seder). Many Haggadot have illustrations showing rituals of Passover such as the family meal. This illustration shows the rituals and costume of Jewish family in medieval Spain. In it the father is putting the Passover basket on his son’s head - a tradition practiced amongst Jews from Southern Europe. The basket contains matzah, a kind of bread made without yeast. Matzah is eaten at Passover to remind the Jews of the bread they made before escaping from Egypt - they were hurrying and could not make bread that needed time to rise.

This is the start of the ceremony, when the father uncovers the Passover plate or basket, blesses a cup of wine and encourages the youngest child to ask the question “Why is this night different from all other nights?”. The illustration is framed by a richly coloured decorative pattern of animals interwoven with flowers and leaves.

Taken from: Barcelona Haggadah
Author / Creator: unknown
Publisher: none
Date: 1340
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: Add. 14761