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The Seder Ritual: The Order of the Seder

The seder has been the basis for Passover celebrations for thousands of years, and these are the 15 steps that take place during a traditional seder.

These Hebrew terms lay out the sequence of the seder, which has been the basis for Passover celebrations for thousands of years. (Seder means "order" in Hebrew, and refers to the 15 steps of a ritual dating back thousands of years.) The seder unfolds according to an elaborate script called the Haggadah, of which there are many modern versions. First, the table is set and the candles are lit. Then, the following steps take place in the order below.

Related: Our 17 Best Passover Seder Recipes


The first of four cups of wine is poured; the blessing is said to sanctify the feast day.


The hands are washed before handling the karpas.


A vegetable is dipped in salt water, then eaten.


The middle of three matzos is broken. The larger half is wrapped in a napkin and hidden for afikoman (dessert).


The second cup of wine is poured, and the story of the flight of the Jewish slaves from Egypt is told.


The hands are washed before the meal.


A prayer is said before breaking bread.


The matzo is blessed.


The bitter herb is tasted.


A "sandwich" of matzo, bitter herbs, and charoset is eaten.

Shulchan Orech

The meal begins.


A child discovers the afikoman, which is then eaten.


The third cup of wine is poured, and the grace after meals is recited. An extra cup of wine is also poured for the prophet Elijah, and a child opens the door of the house to invite him in.


The fourth cup of wine is poured, followed by psalms of praise and a prayer.


The service concludes with a hymn, which is traditionally followed by playful songs for the children.

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