By Brett Richman, MHWOW Program Manager
Have you ever thought about how you can broaden the scope of your holiday programming? Are you trying to figure out what you can do as an MHWOW Host to mark the end of Passover? Well then, let’s talk about a Mimouna celebration and how you can incorporate this into your end of Passover program.
What is a Mimouna celebration?
Mimouna is a traditional North African Jewish celebration that marks the end of Passover and a return to eating chametz. The origins of the Mimouna celebration are unclear. Some think it is in observation of Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef’s yahrzeit (the father of Maimonides); another possibility is that it refers to an Arabic word, ma’amoun meaning “protected by God”, or a greeting, ma’amin translated to “I believe”. You can find more about the potential origins here.
It is evident, regardless of the origin, that the Mimouna celebration pulls on regional Jewish and Arabic foods that would be common for celebrations, and was a sign of comradery between the communities. Think lots of sweet cakes and pastries, dried fruits like figs and dates, jams, and honey!
How to host a Mimouna celebration:
Admittedly, my first Mimouna experience was anything but traditional. I gathered a group of peers and we ate bread, made a cheese board, and ordered some pizza. It wasn’t until years later when I connected with Sephardic Jewish friends who identified as North African Jews that I learned how they celebrate Mimouna through traditional foods and community.
When planning your Mimouna celebration, the first thing you want to do is invite your friends, this is an MHWOW program after all! Then you’ll want to prepare all of your food, gather all of the ingredients, and put together your spread. Think of it like a dessert cheese-board, this way your guests can build their own plates and tastes. Then, dig in while sharing the story of this beautiful tradition with your guests. (This New York Times article is a great resource)
Here is what to prepare for a Mimouna celebration:
What we ate that night was a delicious traditional Mimouna celebration dessert called Mofletta, along with buttery biscuits with regionally-specific jams, and an assortment of dried fruits and nuts. This has become my Mimouna menu.
Mofletta is a crepe-like dessert that is made with flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, then served with honey and butter. My twist is to make a honey compound butter (mixing softened butter with lots of honey) and spreading that between each Mofletta as it comes off the stove, layering each one to make a sweet stack of Mofletta, slicing and serving like a cake. I like this recipe from Nosher or this video from Jewlish by Jaime.
While American biscuits are not traditional North African food, they are the perfect vehicle for sweet jams. This year, I’m going to use a recipe for the “Best Biscuits Ever” from Basics with Babish (video | recipe). For jam, my rule of thumb is one-cup fresh fruit to one-cup of white sugar, into a cold pan and then turn to medium heat for 5-10 minutes depending on your stove (video | recipe).
When it comes to dried fruits and nuts, I would recommend picking what you enjoy. I prefer dates, figs, raisins, and then grab a bag of mixed nuts, that way everyone is happy!
If you’re like me, each holiday is an opportunity to try something new and learn about a Jewish tradition that I can incorporate into my practice.