The Mimouna: A Post-Passover Celebration of Moroccan Jews–Rachel L.

Jewish people all over the world celebrate the universal holiday of Passover which prohibits the consumption of chametz (leavened bread) for eight days. Throughout the diaspora, Jews were scattered around the globe and had to merge within their societies, developing their own customs and traditions that are still alive today. Along with celebrating the sacred holiday of Passover, Moroccan Jews developed a well-known national celebration, the Mimouna, that celebrated the ending of Passover. There are multiple symbolizations for this tradition, one being, the formal return of chametz; however, it’s also a time to celebrate luck, good fortune, and the start of the spring season. There are different derivatives of the meaning behind the word “Mimouna.” Some believe that the source of the name is Maimon, the father of the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon), this day marking the date of his birth or his death. Others believe that the name is derived from the Arabic word for “wealth” and “good luck” or from the Hebrew word “emuna” or “ma’amin” which reflects this celebration as the faith and trust in God. Faith is closely tied to this holiday due to the splitting of the Red-Sea that took place on the last day of Passover.

To signify their faith in God, specific foods are eaten, tables are specially decorated, and royal clothing are worn during the night of the Mimouna. Foods eaten symbolize fertility, joy, abundance, success, health, and prosperity. The primary, traditional food of the Mimouna is the moufletta, a type of pancake closely resembling the mallawach. Lettuce with drizzles of honey are given to guests to symbolize “a sweet new year.” A plate of flour is decorated with five green beans, a tray of flour with gold coins; ultimately, representing success and abundance. Fish are put on the table, as well as a bowls of milk, in remembrance of the splitting of the Red Sea. The tables are dressed magnificently and filled with a variety of sweet pastries. The sweets include: zaban (a kind of nougat) and mrozya (a meal of raisins and almonds), along with many others. The royal robe of the Moroccans, the Kaftan, is worn. Ultimately, the night is filled with eating, dancing, and singing till the break of dawn; an experience that truly unites the community.

This tradition links back to the settlement of Jews in Morocco in the mid-18th century where they shared Muslims as neighbors. The Mimouna promoted a good relationship and signified peace between religions. A day before Passover, the Arab family received a platter full of goods from the Moroccan Jewish family. The tradition developed in Morocco when neighbors would bring gifts of flour, honey, milk, butter and green beans to the homes of their Jewish neighbors to prepare post-Passover chametz (leavened bread) dishes to be eaten later in the evening. This arrangement had ultimately made it possible for the Jews to prepare the food on the night of the Mimouna. It was customary during the evening of the celebration to open one’s home and heart to family members and close friends. The good relations between Jews and Muslims continued for many generations.

The mimouna was mentioned in our previous reading, “Living Side by Side, Really?!” by Joelle Bahloul. This article expresses the Judeo-Arab relationships during the twentieth century; ethnographic research was conducted to examine the communication and rituals of these two religions back in Morocco. In order to get insight into this community, a Facebook group, named the “Mimuna Club”, was made. The sole purpose of this group was to give members, both Jews and Arabs, a remembrance of their past. Elders of the community would be able to share memories and connect to Moroccans all over the world. The history of Judeo-Muslim coexistence is held sacred and thus is important to preserve this memory for future generations. Today, the tradition of the Mimouna continues to grow and had become a national holiday in Israel; many want to partake in this national celebration for its incredible history and, of course, give gratitude to God for their fortunes.

Citations:

Enkin, Ari. “Mimouna: A Moroccan Jewish Celebration.” United with Israel. 13 Apr. 2014. Web.

Lugassy, Charles, and Natacha Myriam Lugassy. “Mimouna: A Judeo-Moroccan Tradition.” 5 Towns Jewish Times. 12 Apr. 2016. Web.

Bahloul, Joëlle. “Living Side by Side, Really?” AJS Perspectives. Web.

http://perspectives.ajsnet.org/the-peoples-issue/living-side-by-side-really/

https://www.facebook.com/Association.Mimouna?fref=nf

Multimedia Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdceLb48x-c – a brief history of the mimouna

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBDsre1s7Wo&list=PLUdnMlDd3Gi4wUqkz1k5BFj8MLOFb2RHg&index=22 – giving a blessing using milk (symbolizing the red sea)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJCqJ1pY8bA&list=PLUdnMlDd3Gi4wUqkz1k5BFj8MLOFb2RHg&index=23 – a slide show of the mimouna

 

 

 

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