The beginning of Passover is just around the corner, but you still have time to figure out what to bring to your first Passover seder. Although it's a Jewish tradition, it's not uncommon to invite non-Jewish friends and family to participate; if you don't know anything about seder beforehand, though, the prospect of choosing a gift for your host can be daunting. The good news is that there are plenty of options, so don't stress out too much.
I'll start with the basics. In case you don't already know, Passover is holiday celebrating the emancipation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The name refers to the belief that God set 10 plagues upon Egypt, culminating in one that killed the firstborn child of every family. However, the plague "passed over" Israelite houses, leaving them untouched. When the Pharaoh found his own child dead, he chased the Israelites out of the country and freed them from slavery in the process.
Each year, Passover celebrates this escape for seven days in Israel, or eight days outside its borders. It all begins with the ceremonial seder feast, during which observers retell the story of Passover, pray, sing, and (obviously) eat. There are more than a few rules to keep in mind. Leavened bread, for example, is totally out, so don't bring foods containing "chametz" — anything where wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt came into contact with water. Also, six symbolic foods are eaten during the feast: maror (bitter herbs like horseradish), salt water, charoset (a sweet paste), zeroah (shank bone), beitzah (a hard-boiled egg), and karpas (a leafy vegetable like lettuce).
You'll want to check with your host for specifics, but if you're in need of ideas for what to bring when Passover begins on Apr. 10, here are some guidelines.
On top of being a good gift for any occasion, wine is a traditional part of the seder meal. Bring your host a bottle of kosher-for-Passover wine — at worst, they'll drink it another time. Just remember to leave the beer at home.
You can also bring grape juice as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine. Again, though, make sure it's kosher, and check with your host to see if they prefer certain brands.
Candy Or Chocolate
Many stores carry candies and chocolate specifically for Passover, so be sure to check the selection at your local grocer. They're guaranteed to be a hit with children and adults alike. If you can't find any marked specifically for Passover, though, your best bet is to bring something else.
Check with your host to see if they need any eggs, which are part of the traditional seder plate. Perhaps it's not the most glamorous dish, but considering how easily eggs are broken, it can't hurt to have extra.
Flowers are a classic gift for a reason: They brighten up the place, and they're a lovely reminder that spring is in full swing. If you really want to be helpful, bring a vase or some other holder for the flowers, so your host won't have to scramble to find a container.
Fresh fruit is kosher, so you bring some along as a contribution to the dinner table.
Passover Recipe Book
Although the seder table contains the aforementioned symbolic foods, there will be plenty of other traditional dishes as well. If you hate cooking or your host doesn't need any more food for the dinner, bring a Passover recipe book. Maybe you'll get to see one of the recipes at next year's feast.