Elijah’s Cup

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 19, 2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

“I don’t even know how this started but ok so like over Passover which is like the Jewish holiday commemorating the Exodus out of Egypt, we have a Seder dinner to retell the story of what happened. Part of it is…something that my family does is what we call “Elijah’s cup,” which is essentially just leaving a full cup of wine at the table, and I can’t really remember but at either the end or the middle of dinner, you’re supposed to open the front door and welcome Elijah in to drink the cup. It’s something about welcoming in those who don’t have a dinner or like the less fortunate, but I’m not really sure to be honest. My family does it every year.”

Background: This was a very interesting story for me to hear because I know the story of Passover from the Catholic viewpoint but have never really understood the specific Jewish traditions of Passover, and this was one example with which I was not familiar at all. This is an interesting symbolic touch added to the dinner, which, in my opinion, provides structure to the dinner and increases the level of reverence associated with the dinner if a real object or real food is dedicated to a holy person. I can relate to this because during Catholic mass the most important part is when the bread and wine are supposed to become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and this tradition creates more respect for the ceremony when we dedicate such an intense belief to a weekly ritual, a characteristic I see reflected in this tradition of Elijah’s Cup. This interview was conducted in person as the informant lives down the hall from me. This story is important to the informant because she conducts this part of the ritual every year at Passover.