Preparing the items for the Seder plate requires some time. It is best to prepare all the Seder foods before the onset of the holiday, in order to avoid halachic questions.
Three matzot are placed on top of each other on a plate or napkin, and then covered. (Some also have the custom to separate the matzot from each other with interleaved plates, napkins, or the like.)
The matzot are symbolic of the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. They also commemorate the three measures of fine flour that Abraham told Sarah to bake into matzah when they were visited by the three angels (Genesis 18:6).
On a practical level, three matzot are needed so that when we break the middle matzah, we are still left with two whole ones to pronounce the hamotzi blessing (as required on Shabbat and holidays).
On a cloth or plate placed above the three matzot, we place the following items:
The special foods we eat on Passover are also food for thought. Every item on the Seder plate abounds in meaning and allusion. Click on the links above for descriptions of each of the foods, the reason why it is included, the method of preparing it, and its role in the Seder meal.