Hiding the Afikomen: When and Where?

The Afikomen is one of pieces of unleavened bread, which is called Matzah, and it is broken in half, wrapped in a napkin, hidden, and later retrieved and served as the last food eaten at the end of the long Jewish feast during the Passover Seder. Afikomen symbolizes the Passover lamb. Even though the Passover lamb was most important to the feast as described by Moses in the Torah, today no lamb is eaten at Jewish Passover Seders because the Passover sacrifice could no longer be appropriately made after the destruction of the Temple; therefore, lamb was no longer eaten at the feast. Afikomen that is last piece of Matzah is a replacement for the lamb. It should be eaten before midnight as Moses commanded.

The Afikomen (together with the Passover Bingo Game) is used to hold children’s attention until the end of the Seder. In some families, the children steal the Matzah and are paid a ransom (generally, money or candy) in order to return it to the table.  In other families, an adult hides the Afikomen either before the Seder begins or at a certain point during the Seder, and children must hunt to find it.  Common hiding places for the Afikomen include under the sofa or couch/couch cushions, right on the table under the tablecloth, beneath the leader’s chair, or in various drawers (of desk, with silverware, of sidetable, etc.).  When trying to find the Afikomen, it helps if one gives hints such as “warmer” or “colder” to narrow it down to a particular area of the home, so that the whole house is not torn inside out during the search!  You can also limit it to a certain room or rooms.

The Greek meaning of Afikomen can be acknowledged as “that which is coming” representing dessert, while some have seen the possibility of taking it as “He who is coming”. According to Jewish tradition, Messiah will come at Passover to bring redemption like unto the redemption brought through Moses.