Mimouna (mee-moo-na) Celebration for the End of Pesach
There are several ways to celebrate the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and our path to freedom. For those of us celebrating Pesach in the West, one perhaps lesser-known tradition is more commonly practiced in Sephardi synagogues of Mediterranean countries: the synagogue is opened at one minute after midnight (at the end of the eighth night of Pesach), the Torah is taken from the ark, and the Song of Songs is read while congregants dance in the aisles.
It is after this Torah reading that the Mimouna festival begins. The Mimouna celebration honors Rabbi Maimon, the father of Moses Maimonides who was the beloved leader of the Moroccan Jews The celebration begins after nightfall on the last day of Passover. Moroccan and Algerian Jews throw open their homes to visitors, after setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes and sweetmeats. The table is frequently 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.
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 other ethnic groups, mainly in the Mizrahi
sector. The festival has been celebrated by Amsterdam's Moroccan Jewish community for many years, while in 2006, the Moroccan Jewish community of Paris, France, celebrated the holiday publicly for the first time.
Regardless of where one celebrates Mimouna, one of the holiday favorites is Mofletta, a thin crepe made from water, flour, and oil, rolled thinly and fried. Other traditional Mimouna foods include pita bread, cut into pieces and eaten by dipping a piece into honey. The meaning behind this tradition is that the pita and honey will glue the family together and slavery and oppression will never again separate us.
For a special child's take on this festive holiday, scroll down for a brief explanation of Mimouna courtesy of Shalom Sesame. And as you consider your plans for next year’s Pesach celebration, you may wish to include a Mimouna of your own; mark your calendar for April 2, 2013.