Mimouna: A Post-Passover Celebration

The Moroccan Jews are known for Mimouna, the exuberant festival held on the evening and day after Passover, and whose origins are unclear. According to one explanation, it is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Maimon ben Joseph, the father of the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, also known by his acronym Rambam), a scholar in his own right who lived in Fez (Morocco) and wrote on Jewish-Islamic relations. He died around 1170. …

The Libyans made a challah -like round loaf with a hard-boiled egg secured in the center with strips of dough. Single men and women received blessings that they would be married in the year ahead. Women wore their fanciest clothes, girls donned white, and children dressed in costumes like the Berbers (native North Africans) and Arabs who shared their celebration and provided flowers, milk, butter, honey, wheat, and other produce for the Jews. Dining tables were decorated with flowers, wheat stalks, and sometimes live fish in bowls (this time symbolizing birth and fertility). Golden rings were hidden in a bowl containing flour, suggesting hoped-for wealth or blessings. A dairy meal of buttermilk, sweets, and special pancakes called muflita served with honey was accompanied by singing, dancing, and visiting with friends.

By Lesli Koppelman Ross, My Jewish Learning

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