By Rotem Bar
Did you ever hear the saying “tirvechoo vetisa’do” meaning, “feel comfortable and eat well”? No? That means you haven’t been to a Mimouna. “Feel comfortable and eat well” is a well-known blessing and greeting said during the Mimouna celebration.
Mimouna is a North African Jewish tradition celebrating the end of Passover and the return of eating chametz by throwing a colorful feast with traditional clothing, music and delicious treats on the night of the last day of Passover. Years ago, when a lot of Jewish families were still living in Morocco, it was custom that on the last day of Passover, their Muslim neighbors would bring gifts of flour, butter and honey, all ingredients that are used for the preparation of Mimouna –post-Passover chametz treats.
Brought to Israel by North African Jews, Mimouna today is celebrated by many Israeli Jews from all backgrounds. It quickly became celebrated not only in private homes but also in the public sphere. In the last few years, the Mimouna celebrations in Israel have gained some political nature when important politicians and elected officials participate in the Mimouna events throughout the country.
So what does it really look like? Private homes that host Mimouna are usually not so private, as it is custom that friends, family and neighbors invite their friends, who invite their friends, who invite their friends. I myself have been a guest at different Mimounas throughout the years where I didn’t even know whose house I was at.
Mimouna is characterized by colors of red and gold. The tables are usually filled with decorations and color. Traditional cookies made out of tahini or sesame, with almonds and dates, are served alongside tea with mint leaves. On the tables are also candy, dried fruits and nuts. The food that is the most identified with Mimouna celebrations is called mufleta. It’s basically flour and oil that looks like a fried crepe. On the mufleta, you can choose to put different spreads such as honey and butter. It’s absolutely delicious!
Mimounas are big and loud. The music played is in Arabic or Moroccan, and sometimes people play the darbuka, or goblet drum, or bring a belly dancer! The traditional clothes are usually galabia, or loose-fitting robes, which are very colorful, gold and sparkly!
In Moshav Kefar Hess (where I am from in Israel), we created our own community’s Mimouna tradition. For the last few years, every year a different street or neighborhood oversees hosting the Moshav’s Mimouna together on their street. It’s pretty cool! Last year, my neighborhood was hosting the Mimouna. The whole street was closed for cars, and all the neighbors came together to prepare the food and decorations. There was a DJ, henna tattoos, and belly dancer, and it turned into a huge party that went late into the night.
Sounds fun? Try making Mimouna treats like recipes included here on the night Passover ends, and, most importantly, don’t forget to “feel comfortable, and eat well.”