Mimouna

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Mimouna
Moofletta.jpg
A table set with traditional foods and symbols of the holiday. The dish in the center is Mofletta.
Official name Hebrew: מימונה
Observed by North African Jews
Significance Celebration of the end of prohibition of chametz
Begins 21st day of Nisan in Israel; 22nd day of Nisan outside of Israel
Ends 22nd day of Nisan in Israel; 23rd day of Nisan outside of Israel
Related to Passover
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at a Mimouna celebration in Jerusalem in 1979

Mimouna (Hebrew: מימונהArabic: ميمونة‎) is a traditional Moroccan Jewish celebration held the day after Passover. It marks the start of spring and the return to eating chametz, i.e., leavened bread and bread by-products, which are forbidden throughout the week of Passover.

Origin of name[edit]

Some believe the source of the name is Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef, father of the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, and the Mimouna marks the date of his birth or death.[1] However, this story is most likely folkloric, and not based in actual history. Because this explanation is found at both ends of North Africa, there is almost no possible way that every North African Jew heard of Maimon ben Yosef's death at the same time, thus establishing the same day for his yahrtzeit.[2] The birth or death of Maimon ben Yosef is also wholly disconnected and unrelated to the traditional customs of Mimouna, as listed in the below section.

Others say that the name Mimouna derives from the Arabic word for “wealth” and “good luck,” or the Hebrew word “emuna” (faith) or “ma’amin” (believe). [3] The latter theory asserts that the holiday signifies belief in both the past Jewish redemption from the Egyptians and the future Messianic redemption: "In Nisan, the Jews were redeemed and in Nisan they will be redeemed in the future. When Passover ends and the Jews are still not redeemed, the Moroccan Jews do not lose their faith; as the Sages said: 'Even if he tarries, I will expect him every day.'"[1]However, this is also most likely another inaccurate origin story for the holiday. It is "not based on the cited motivations" of Moroccan Jews before the State of Israel's founding: Moroccan Jews connect Passover, not Mimouna, to the Talmudic prediction of the Messiah coming in Nisan because of Passover's Biblical origins and its redemptive nature, as seen in God's assistance in the Exodus from Egypt.[2] Mimouna is also associated more with "faith" and "belief" in immediate prosperity, as seen with the customs of matchmaking and well wishes in successful childbearing.[4]

Customs[edit]

The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. In many communities, non-Jewish neighbors sell bread products back to Jewish families as a beginning of the celebration. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. One of the holiday favorites is Mofletta.[1] The table is also laid with various symbols of luck and fertility, with an emphasis on the number "5," such as five pieces of gold jewelry or five beans arranged on a leaf of pastry. The repetition of the number five references the five-fingered hamsa amulet common in both Jewish and Muslim North African and Middle Eastern communities from pre-modern times. [5] Typically all those in attendance at a Mimouna celebration are sprinkled with a mint sprig or other green dipped in milk, symbolizing good fortune and new beginnings[6]

In Israel, the Mimouna has become a popular annual happening featuring outdoor parties, picnics and BBQs. After settling in Israel, Jewish immigrants from North Africa (Maghrebim) celebrated the Mimouna with their families. In 1966, it was introduced as a national holiday, and has been adopted by members of other ethnic groups.[7][8] One source estimated that nearly two million people in Israel now participate in Mimouna festivities. [9]

See also[edit]

  • Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot.
  • Isru chag refers to the day after each of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals.
  • Pesach Sheni, is exactly one month after 14 Nisan.
  • Purim Katan is when during a Jewish leap year Purim is celebrated during Adar II so that the 14th of Adar I is then called Purim Katan.
  • Shushan Purim falls on Adar 15 and is the day on which Jews in Jerusalem celebrate Purim.
  • Yom Kippur Katan is a practice observed by some Jews on the day preceding each Rosh Chodesh or New-Moon Day.
  • Yom tov sheni shel galuyot refers to the observance of an extra day of Jewish holidays outside of the land of Israel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mimouna Customs". Jewish Agency for Israel. 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Goldberg, Harvey E. "The Mimuna and the Minority Status of Moroccan Jews." Ethnology 17.1 (1978): 77.
  3. ^ Mimouna: A Moroccan Jewish Celebration
  4. ^ Sharaby, Rachel. "Political Activism and Ethnic Revival of a Cultural Symbol." Ethnicities 11.4. 495.
  5. ^ Bin-Nun, Yigal (8 April 2007). "Lady Luck: In Morocco, Mimouna was a feast day designed to appease a local she-devil, and contained no religious components. In Israel, however, its pagan origins have been ignored". Haaretz. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Waskow, Arthur Ocean. "Pesach: Rebirthing the Earth, the People, and Freedom." Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays. Boston: Beacon, 1990. 133-64. Print.
  7. ^ "Mimouna in Israel". Jewish Agency for Israel. 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Jeffay, Nathan (12 April 2012). "Mimouna Revelries Mark End of Passover". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Une fête peu connue en Europe, La Mimouna" (in French). Harissa.com. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 

External links[edit]