How to dress for a Passover Seder?
Passover is upon us. The celebration of freedom. Whether you are Jewish, philo-Jewish, almost Jewish or non-Jewish, you may host a seder or be invited to one, and you may want to up your style. Up as in keep up, style up, be up to date, up-date or be apt (I know, the pun doesn't work as much for native speakers as it does for foreigners -- Alas! I am still a foreigner in this promised land).
When we think about what to wear, context and characteristics of the event are a major aspect to take into account (a full list of 'c' aspects for dressing coming up in this blog... after Passover!) Here are some considerations and corresponding tips to take into account.
1. A Seder is long and food is abundant ---> Dress comfortably
The first things you should know about Passover is that a seder is 1) long and 2) banquet-like. The seder can take up to 2 hours before eating, depending on the kind of Haggadah followed, the number of guests, and the degree of interaction between guests and the chosen (pun intended) scripture. If comments, questions, and qualifications are welcome, length will depend upon the make up of the guests, variables including academic, Jewish scholars, strong political stands about gender, LGBT, first-time seder goers, kids interrupting with questions other than the 4 foreseen ones... It may be the recreation of the the feeling of 40 years in the desert. I promise you will get the idea.
It is also banquet-like, there are many courses, for starters different dippings with symbolic value (and caloric fulfilling effect), and then matza ball soup, and then gefilte fish, and then the meal, and then dessert. You get the idea. Over-eating is likely to be the case.
This means that you want to wear comfortable clothes to be sitting at a table for a long period of time (it is really a brutta figura, as said in Italian, to leave the table before the Haggadah (the text containing the liturgy for the Seder service on the first two nights, including a narrative of the Exodus) and to be able to eat at ease without being tortured by tight tops and bottoms. Good choices are tunics (as worn at the time!), tops that are snug only under the bustline, pants with elastic or loose waist, wrap dresses.
2. Food is passed around ---> Beware of clothes that are too precious to get stained
During the seder there is a lot of 'communal' passing around, starting with dipping - salty water, maror - which may end up in your outfit. Also, by the time you eat, everyone (I may be talking about myself here) is so hungry, that there may be less precision when passing bowls of kneidalakh soup, or khrein (horseradish, beware of the purple kind!) for the gefilte fish. Beware of the type of horseradish: if the white kind, you will be on the safer side as far as stains are concerned; if the purple one, you may not be able to remove "the stain of freedom" from a garment. Also, Passover is not Hannukah, where oil has a prominent place, but there is still a lot of oil around, particularly in kosher settings where meat can not be mixed with milk products (that is, butter). There is also a lot of chicken fat going around in different versions of the soup (or other dishes).
And there are kids... who besides all the things kids do, will be running around like crazy looking for the afikomen (a wrapped piece of matza hidden in the house) to get a treat/price.
So, wear fabrics that are easy to wash and colors that won't show stains. Cotton is easy to wash, polyester is easy to care for but may lock stains (when in doubt, ask a dry cleaner). Dark colors such as black, burgundy, brown, or busy prints are good. You can style up your outfit with colorful nails and VP shoes.
3. Passover is the celebration of freedom ---> Wear something special and that makes you look and feel great.
Always wear a good bras. Freedom is always freedom within the limits of the law. Moses came down with the 10 commandments after 40 years in the desert. The quality and character of the law frames freedom to give it its full potential, to attain its ultimate value. No need to further draw the analogy (Refer to my previous blog for the importance of a good bras!).
Always take the liberty of wearing an outfit that brings out who you are and makes you look your best (while keeping in mind tips 1 and 2). You will love it, others will love it (that's the two way idea!).
Next blog, over pizza, on the commandments to choose the best fitting bra.
PS: Thumbnail of the posting by Marc Chagall - Exodus, He gave him two tablets of testimony.