|Variations||Filling: traditionally poppy seed|
A hamantash (Yiddish: המן טאש, also spelled hamentasch, pl. hamantashen or hamentaschen) is a filled-pocket cookie or pastry recognizable for its triangular shape. The shape is achieved by folding in the sides of a circular piece of dough, with a filling placed in the center. Hamantashen are made with many different fillings, including poppy seed (the oldest and most traditional variety), prunes, nut, date, apricot, raspberry, apple, fruit preserves in a lekvar style, cherry, chocolate, dulce de leche, halva, or even caramel or cheese. Their formation varies from hard pastry to soft doughy casings.
Hamantash is also spelled hamentasch, homentash, homentasch, or even (h)umentash. The name "hamantash" is commonly known as a reference to Haman, the villain of Purim, as described in the Book of Esther. The pastries are supposed to symbolize the defeated enemy of the Jewish people, and thus resemble the three-cornered hat of Haman". The word tasch means "pouch" or "pocket" in Germanic languages, and thus the reference may instead be to "Haman's pockets", symbolizing the money which Haman offered to Ahasuerus in exchange for permission to destroy the Jews. Naked Archaeologist documentarian Simcha Jacobovici has shown the resemblance of hamantaschen to dice from the ancient Babylonian Royal Game of Ur, thus suggesting that the pastries are meant to symbolize the pyramidal shape of the dice cast by Haman in determining the day of destruction for the Jews. Another possible source of the name is a folk etymology: the original Yiddish word מאָן־טאַשן (montashn) or the German word Mohntaschen, both meaning poppyseed-filled pouches, was transformed to Hamantaschen, likely by association with Haman. This use of "-tasche" in reference to filled pouches of dough is common in modern German, e.g. in "Teigtasche", "Apfeltasche", "Maultasche". In Israel, Hamantaschen are called Oznei Haman (Hebrew: אוזני המן), Hebrew for "Haman's ears" in reference to their defeated enemy's ears.
The word "hamantash" is singular; "hamantashen" is plural and is the word form more commonly used. However, many people refer to these pastries as hamantashen even in the singular (for example, "I ate an apricot hamantashen").
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- Purim, Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906, 'In this connection it may be mentioned that for the celebration of Purim there developed among the Jews a special kind of baking. Cakes were shaped into certain forms and were given names having some symbolic bearing on the historical events of Purim. Thus the Jews of Germany eat "Hamantaschen" and "Hamanohren" (in Italy, "orrechi d'Aman"), "Kreppchen," "Kindchen," etc.'
- Gordon, Dave (April 8, 2011). "Filmmaker unearths mystery". Jewish Independent. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- MyJewishLearning.com - Holidays: Purim Foods
- Media related to Hamantashen at Wikimedia Commons