Cup of Wine for Elijah

My informant is a 19-year-old college student who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, then moved out to California where she now attends the University of Southern California. Both her parents are from a Jewish background and her ethnicity is Dutch, Russian, Lithuanian, and English.

My informant comes from a long lineage of Jewish ancestors, so I thought it was only appropriate to ask her about some of the Jewish traditions that are passed down to her from her family. The one she decided to share with me is a traditional or ritual that takes place during Passover.

Informant: “Passover represents a celebration of freedom from slavery for Israelis. I think there are a lot of different ways to celebrate Passover and it kind of depends on your family. I know there are a lot of families that have traditions that don’t even have anything to do with Judaism but they just continue to do them because they always have. One thing that my family does that isn’t written in the Torah, but we do it anyway, is leave a cup of wine on the table for Elijah. Supposedly you are supposed to leave the door open too, but we don’t do that. The cup is just an offering more or less so that Elijah, who is a prophet, will visit your house and bless it.”

Analysis: I thought it was interesting that, like many people, we have these rituals or traditions that we follow, although it is not explicitly written anywhere. Once a tradition seems to be followed by one person, they have the ability to hand this down through their lineage, and it continues on years and years later. I also thought it was interesting how my informant brought up that she knows of other families who have very odd traditions for Passover, even as odd as watching the same movie every year. These types of things also become tradition even though it does not state it any where in the religion, but the continuation of performing these rituals allow them to be carried on through generations.