the post-Passover Festival...
Israel is composed of Jews who immigrated from all over the world. They brought to Israel a large array of customs and traditions. One custom that was unique to Jews from Morocco is called “Mimouna.”
Mimouna builds a bridge from Passover to the rest of the year – it is the formal reintroduction of chametz (leavened foods). But more importantly it is a celebration of community and togetherness. The doors of homes are thrown open to neighbors of all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds and a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats is set out for the visitors. This house-to-house visiting lasts until the wee hours of the night. Once only Jew of Moroccan ancestry celebrated this day, but it is such a nice concept, that many Israelis of other backgrounds now celebrate Mimouna as well.
The following day is also devoted to family celebrations, visiting and hosting, and in many public places hundreds of people barbecue in the parks. Participants wear brightly colored traditional clothing from North Africa often adorned with coins. There is Jewish folk dancing and music played throughout the celebration.
Many believe that Mimouna is connected to Chag Sheni and the liberation the Israelites experienced once the pursuing Egyptians drown in the Red Sea on the seven days after fleeing Egypt. Many of the Mimouna treats reflect this connection. Mimouna recipe will almost always contain sweet ingredients. This symbolizes the sweetness of physical and spiritual freedom. These deliciously ethnic treats include honey and butter wafers, zaben - white almond nougat, marozia - fried raisins decorated with nuts, mazun - jam made from grapefruit, oranges, turnips, carrots and beets and dates stuffed with nuts and marzipan. There are also Mimouna fish recipes which symbolize the fish in the Red Sea.
All of the above-mentioned Mimouna foods are placed on a table covered with a white tablecloth that serves as the centerpiece of the Mimouna festival in the household. Other foods that represent the future prosperity of the Jewish people are placed on the table. These include: a tray of flour containing seven gold coins and a full cup of oil in the center, a plate of flour that is decorated with seven green bean pods, bowls of nuts and fruit such as almonds, apples, and oranges, jars of honey, sheaves of grain scattered across the table and milk jugs surrounded by vegetables and lettuce.
The seven coins that are placed in the tray of flour symbolize the coins that were washed up on the shoreline after the Egyptian army drowned. The number seven is important in the celebration as it was the seventh day after the Israelites left Egypt when the miracle of the Red Sea took place.
Mimouna is a brilliant way to celebrate after the restrictions of Passover. It is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors and share in the splendor that freedom affords all of us not matter who we are.