One of our family’s favorite traditions is the celebration of Passover and Jesus’ final meal with his disciples by hosting a Seder dinner. Growing up in a Baptist family, this was not an event that was celebrated. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered the RICHNESS of celebrating this beautiful event. The tradition of Passover comes from God’s rescuing of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. God used Moses to complete this plan. The final plague of the Exodus was the death angel coming to take the eldest son. The angel would “passover” those homes whose door had the lambs blood over the door frame. The Israelites still celebrate this beautiful dinner, but for an evangelical family, we know that this miracle is a foreshadowing that points to Jesus being our rescuer!
The beauty of God’s redemption story and His deliverance was something I desired to share with my children. Traditional Seder dinners can be VERY LONG. Every element is beautiful and full of meaning, but with little ones, it can be hard. I have pulled together beautiful ideas for a simple, do-able Seder dinner for families with little ones!
Setting the table is a vital part of creating the atmosphere of the celebration. I go to my local florist and choose rich purple, green, and wine colored flowers to fill vases. Adding palm branches is a beautiful touch as well! I found beautiful pewter goblets at a local thrift store that are used for the different cups that you will drink throughout the dinner. Because we are an evangelical family, we set a special place for Jesus at the head of the table, recognizing His promised coming. Everyone will have a small plate that will have one boiled egg with the shell, mixed nuts, dried fruit (we use dried cranberries), parsley, and horseradish. You will need small bowls of salt water, kosher grape juice, and a basin of warm water with a towel. To keep our children’s attention, I love to have fun coloring pages and new crayons! Since the meal is done in stages, it allows those moments for them to work on special pictures. You can click HERE for simple coloring activities! Have beautiful instrumental hymn music playing in the background. Setting the mood for a relaxing, meaningful celebration makes this even more intentional.
Before you begin your Seder dinner, hide the Afikoman. Traditionally, the matzah is broken into three pieces. At the end of the dinner, the leader will send the children to find the bread and bring it back to the table. The child who finds it receives a small candy or toy. For our evangelical family, and many others, this piece can be looked at as seeking Jesus and finding Him as our reward! I love reading the Jewish history of the afikoman. You can find a sweet and precious article HERE.
The food eaten at a Seder dinner is one of our families favorite kind of foods. We try to keep the food kosher by intentionally choosing kosher grape juice, matzah, roasted vegetables, etc. When you are preparing a lavish dinner, I am all about “smarter not harder”. Every year I purchase lamb and chicken from our local Greek restaurant. This helps immensely with preparations. Below is the menu that our family traditionally follows.
Meat- lamb and chicken
Roasted Veggies- rainbow carrots and asparagus
Potato, Thyme, and Olive Oil Gratin
I have done a lot of research to find the best flow and presentation. Jennifer Dukes Lee wrote a beautiful blog post which you can read in full HERE. Below is her version.
PARENT: Tonight, we take part in the Passover Seder. It is a tradition celebrated by Jewish people as part of the Jewish Passover. The Passover celebrates the time when God, through Moses, led his people out of slavery. The Egyptian pharaoh let the people go after the angel of death killed every firstborn in Egypt but “passed over” the Israelite homes with lamb’s blood on their doorposts.
(Optional: Depending on what you feel is age-appropriate for your child regarding the explanation of Passover, you may choose to have a coloring page of a man preparing his doorpost by clicking here. Have the child color or paint the doorpost red. Explain that this was a message to the angel of death to “pass over” those houses and spare the children. Ask children how they may have felt that night if they were the parent painting the doorpost, or a child inside the house.)
PARENT: Tonight, we celebrate a Jewish ritual. But we are not Jewish. We are Christians. So why do you think we should celebrate Passover? (Give children a chance to respond, and be open to their thoughts and questions.)
PARENT: One reason we celebrate is to remember how God helped his people by leading them out of slavery. We remember that God keeps His promises. Can you think of a time when God has kept a promise in your life? (Allow children to respond.)
PARENT: We also celebrate Passover because Jesus did! Remember, when Jesus joined his friends for one last Dinner before he died on the cross? That “Last Supper” was during a Passover celebration. During dinner, Jesus first introduced Holy Communion to the disciples. He took bread, broke it and said “This is my body.” He took a cup of wine, lifted it and said, “This is my blood.”PARENT: What do you think the disciples thought when he said his body was the bread and his blood was the wine? (Allow the children to share responses.)
PARENT: The disciples might have been confused. No one ever said anything like that before. With Jesus, this meal was given new meaning. Bread and wine had new meaning, too. Even his very best friends, the disciples, were surprised and amazed!
PARENT: And so, we eat this meal to remember Jesus Christ. We will eat the same kinds of foods that Jesus ate. We will say some of the same words he said. And we can be amazed, too!
PARENT: (Drawing attention to the goblets) During the meal, you will be served a drink four times, which is an ancient tradition of the Passover Seder. The four cups are: The cup of sanctification, which reminds us of God’s promises; the cup of deliverance, because God brought (or delivered) his people out of slavery; the cup of redemption, because Jesus died for us; and the cup of praise, because we thank God for what He has done.
PARENT: (Drawing attention to empty seat) And we remember throughout our dinner tonight, that Jesus is always at our table, just like He was at the table with the disciples.
CHILD READER (or parent): Read from Mark 14:12-16. Discuss briefly. Note how the Bible says that Jesus was celebrating the Passover feast on the night before he died on the cross.
CHILD READER (or parent): Read Luke 22:14-15. Discuss briefly. Ask the children what they think Jesus meant when he talked about suffering. Ask them how they think the disciples might have felt. How might Jesus have felt?
PARENT: We begin tonight with our first cup — the cup of sanctification and freedom.
Pour small amount of grape juice in each goblet. Wait to drink.
PARENT, you may try to say this: Baruch atah adonai, elohay numelech hadlam boray pree hagafen. (Otherwise, use the English translation): Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine.
Everyone drinks first cup.
PARENT: In the traditional Seder, the first cup was followed by the ceremonial washing of hands. During the Last Supper, this might have been when Jesus washed his friends’ feet. (Read John 13:3-5, 14-15 .)
At this time, you may choose to wash the feet of your children. And they may also wash yours.
PARENT: At this point in the Passover meal, the first “dipping” took place. This is represented tonight by the parsley and salt water. You will dip the parsley in the bowl of salt water. The parsley reminds us of the Hyssop which applied the Lamb’s blood to the door frames of the homes. The salt water reminds us of the tears shed while in slavery and of the waters of the Red Sea. God parted the waters so the people could pass through to safety and freedom.
All dip twice and eat. Encourage children to taste the salt and remember the tears.
Pour second cups. Do not drink yet.
PARENT: After the dipping, the host of a Passover Seder pours the second cup but the participants did not drink yet. The next step was the asking of questions, usually by the youngest.
CHILD: Why is this night different from all other nights?
PARENT: Because we were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.
CHILD: On this night, why do we eat only unleavened bread?
PARENT: Biblical tradition says that the people had to leave Egypt so quickly that they did not have time to let the bread rise. So they made dough without yeast.
CHILD: On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but this night only bitter herbs. Why do we dip them?
PARENT: Because this reminds us of the bitterness of slavery. On this night we dip into salt water to remind us of the tears.
(Note: My husband led the dinner but at this point I read the story “God to the Rescue!” from The Jesus Storybook Bible.)
Explain each element of the Passover meal. Explain how some of the food might taste different from what they normally eat. Encourage your children to be willing to try new things, and to remember that each part of the meal has special meaning.
The unleavened bread, or Matzo, reminds us that the Jewish people did not have time to let their dough rise when they made their bread, so they did not use yeast. They had to escape quickly.
The horseradish represents bitter herbs – or moror — to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.
The egg represents offerings that were brought to God in the Temple of Jerusalem in ancient times. You may also tell them that the empty shell of the egg can remind us of the empty tomb.
The lamb symbolizes the Passover sacrifice.
The fruit and nuts – served tonight separately — were often combined into a coarse, sweet mixture called charoset. This represents the mortar the slaves used in their work.
PARENT: You may now drink from the second cup – the cup of deliverance.
PARENT may say: Barach atah adonai, elohay numelech hadlam, boray pree hagafen.
(And/or) … Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who makes the fruit of the Vine.
Parent or child or whole family may say grace before the meal is eaten. Serve lamb at this time. (We do not use utensils.)
PARENT: After the meal, you may say this blessing: Blessed are you our God, King of the Universe, who feeds the whole world, with your goodness and with grace, kindness and mercy, for your mercy endures forever.
At this time, the third cup, the cup of redemption is served. Depending on your religious traditions and beliefs regarding communion, you may serve communion around the table at this time. Otherwise, you may simply note that this is when Jesus would have served communion, and you may drink your third cups of juice individually.
PARENT: (Modify, if your children do not yet take communion): We will now be serving the third cup – the cup of redemption – as part of our communion service around this table. Jesus would have done this on the night of the Last Supper, when he celebrated Passover with the disciples in the Upper Room. In Jewish tradition, the cup of redemption recalled God’s promise to Moses: I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. Imagine the surprise of the disciples when Jesus suddenly gave this cup of redemption a whole new meaning. During the third cup, Jesus took the cup and gave thanks, saying: Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my father’s kingdom.
He also took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
We serve communion, one to another, around the room. You may offer both the bread and grape juice or wine to the person beside you, saying: “(Person’s name), this is the body of Christ, given for you. This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
After communing, you may now pray a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for what He has done for us.
PARENT: We have reached the fourth and final cup, the cup of praise.
Pour final cups.
PARENT: Baruch atah adonai, elohay numelech haolam, boray pree hagafen.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who makes the fruit of the vine.
HUNT FOR THE HIDDEN AFIKOMEN. When they find this bread, broken and wrapped in a white cloth, ask them what that reminds them of, in the Easter story. (Christ’s body wrapped in a cloth and hidden in a tomb).
PARENT: The Passover Seder traditionally comes to an end with a closing hymn. We will do the same tonight, by singing the Doxology.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Following dinner we watch The Prince of Egypt.
I pray that this helps your family spend intentional time remembering what God has done! Remember, we as parents are commanded to teach our children of the GREAT works for our God!! Passover is truly my children’s favorite holiday! The beauty, the symbols, and the richness every element points to our Savior. I pray this time creates space for your family to remember the wonderful works of our God!